The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) is likely to stir up outrage among commuters as it announced astronomical raises to mass transit fees, some three months after another steep rise.
Starting from Monday, IBB will charge TL 50 for the first purchase of Istanbulkart, an electronic card used as a mass transit pass, a 100% rise. Fees for the purchase of “discount cards” allocated to students, teachers and senior citizens, as well as free passes for press members, disabled citizens, health care workers and police officers, were hiked to TL 60 from TL 35.
The city imposed this year’s first raise in mass transit fees in February, implementing hikes up to 92% for card purchases. In April, the price to board mass transit vehicles was raised to TL 7.67 from TL 5.48.
The municipality defended the hikes in a written statement on its website, citing rising costs of electronic cards “due to the global chip shortage, current economic circumstances and fluctuations in foreign currencies.”
Decreasing mass transit fees was one of the election pledges of Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu. In a speech before his election in 2019, the mayor said he would decrease the fees “to symbolic prices” and transportation would be “absolutely cheaper” in the city of more than 15 million people.
Istanbulkart, which replaced the primitive electronic device Akbil in 2015, allows smooth travel through Istanbul’s complicated traffic and complex mass transit system. The municipality had recently introduced a mobile app that allows users to add credit to their electronic passes and use contactless payment through a QR code while boarding mass transit vehicles. The electronic pass also serves as a pre-paid debit card in certain shopping venues, like supermarkets.
Istanbul hosts a complex mass transit network, including buses, minibuses, metro services and the bus rapid transit known as metrobus. However, locals complain about recurring problems, especially in buses which suffer from frequent breakdowns nowadays, something blamed on lack of maintenance.