Throughout history, Istanbul has always been the intersection point of transportation routes thanks to its geographical position. People travelling from Asia, Europe or Africa would stop in Istanbul, depending on their route, and those dealing with trade and commerce would use the city as a center or a transfer point. Even if Istanbul, which served as the capital of the Ottoman State for centuries, transferred this role to Ankara an October 13, 1923, and was neglected and fell out of favor for a while, it succeeded in becoming a center of attraction once again. It is the most densely populated city in Turkey today, while at the same time, in terms of potential, is the economic, cultural, commercial, industrial and educational center of the country. The historical development of a city and the structuring of the intra-city transportation services mutually affect each other. The expansion and development of the city in various directions necessitates the development of transportation services and the investment for it to be able to reach the new settlement areas. On the other hand, the development of certain transportation axes accelerates urban development around these axes.1 In this article, which will touch upon Istanbul in the Turkish Republican era, we will discuss the historical development of the sea, land and air transportation systems in the city; graphs, statistics and maps will be used to ensure that information is straightforward and easy to understand.


Thanks to constantly developing new technologies, maritime transportation is one of the most practical, environment-friendly and economic transportation methods at the present moment. Up until the middle of the nineteenth century, sea transportation in Istanbul took place with row boats. These boats, organized as guilds and affiliated with certain docks, would carry passengers and freight in return for a fee. Government officials and foreign ambassadors who lived on the Bosphorus had private boats. With the introduction of steamboats and a daily increase in their numbers, scheduled steamboat trips began. In 1844 the Hazine-i Hassa Vapurları İdaresi (Sultan’s Treasury Steamboats Administration) was established2 under the management of the Naval Ministry; this company sailed along routes in the Marmara, Aegean and Black Seas using steamboats belonging to the Tersane-i Amire (Imperial Shipyard). It can be seen that by 1914 this establishment, which became the Fevaid-i Osmaniye İdaresi3 on September 28, 1864, İdare-i Aziziye in 1870, İdare-i Mahsusa in 1876 and finally, the Osmanlı Seyr-i Sefain İdaresi on September 9, 1910,4 carried 19.17 percent of all passengers in Istanbul.5

The Bandırma Steamboat, on which Mustafa Kemal Pasha sailed to Samsun to launch the campaign for national independence, also belonged to this company. The company became the Türkiye Seyr-i Sefain İdaresi on February 5, 1924, and was placed under the jurisdiction of the National Defense Ministry.6 At the same time, this company owned a new fleet of 17 ships, and had the rights to operate between Pendik, Köprü, Yeşilköy and the Princes’ Islands. The Türkiye Seyr-i Sefain İdaresi, which in 1927 carried an average of 33,500 passengers a day,7 was dissolved on July 1, 1933; in its place, the Denizyolları İşletmesi Müdürlüğü (Directorate for the Administration of Maritime Routes), which carried passengers on internal and external routes, the Havuz ve Fabrikalar Müdürlüğü (Directorate of Pools and Factories) and the AKAY administration, which carried passengers within Istanbul were all established.8 AKAY was an acronym made up from of the first letters of the words: Adalar (Islands), Kadıköy, Anatolian side, and Yalova routes. AKAY, which carried passengers along the shores that lay outside of Istanbul’s straits and the Golden Horn, was dissolved five years after being established; the Şehir Hatları İşletmesi (City Lines Administration) was established in its place.9 In the years immediately following its establishment, the administration divided its service area into four separate regions, consisting of the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus, the Marmara and İzmit Gulf lines.10

Graph 1: The total number of passengers carried by the Seyr-i Sefain/AKAY/City Lines ferries between 1923 and 2003

Source: Koraltürk, <em>İstanbul’da Deniz Ulaşımı</em>, p. 97.

The ownership of the Şehir Hatları İşletmesi was handed over to Denizbank on January 1 1938, while Denizbank was transferred to the Devlet Denizyolları ve Limanları İşletme Umum Müdürlüğü (State Maritime and Ports Administration General Directorship). From March 1, 1952 onwards, Denizcilik Bank operated under the jurisdiction of T.O.A.11 With the merging of the Haliç Vapurları (Golden Horn Steamboats) Company, they also began carrying passengers along the Golden Horn line. In 1950, with 63 city-line steamboats, the company was carrying an average of 151,000 passengers daily, with an average of 22,300 passengers along the Golden Horne route, 55,000 passengers on the Bosphorus line, 70,000 on the Marmara line and 3,700 along the İzmit line.12 The Sirkeci-Kadıköy vehicle ferries began to operate in 1959.13

Graph 2- The total number of passengers carried by the Şirket-i Hayriye between 1880 and 1944

Source: Koraltürk, <em>İstanbul’da Deniz Ulaşımı</em>, p. 40.

New investments in highways had a negative impact on the number of passengers for the City Lines. Indeed, it increased the need for the car ferries. As a result, in addition to the Üsküdar-Kabataş and Kartal-Yalova vehicle ferry lines, the Sirkeci-Harem line came into service on May 9, 1966; this replaced the Sirkeci-Kadıköy vehicle ferry line. In November of 1966, a new vehicle ferry line was opened between İstinye and Paşabahçe. In 1970, a daily average of 13,400 vehicles was transported along these four car ferry lines. The share of the passengers for the Üsküdar-Kabataş line was 70 percent, the Harem line 24 percent and the other two lines carried 6 percent of passengers. The opening of the Boğaziçi (Bosphorus) Bridge in 1973, which connected two continents with a highway, had a negative impact on car ferries, causing the closure of the İstinye-Paşabahçe line, and a change in the schedule of the Sirkeci-Harem line. The number of car ferries on the Kartal-Yalova line was increased and service began between Sirkeci and Yalova.14

1- Istanbul passenger ferries (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Atatürk Library)

Graph 3- The total number of passengers carried by Golden Horn Ferries between 1911 and 1944

Source: Koraltürk, <em>İstanbul’da Deniz Ulaşımı</em>, p. 74.

2- The ferryboat to at Üsküdar pier (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Atatürk Library)

Table 1- The Total Number of Passengers and Vehicles Transported by İDO between 1988 and 2009.


Sea Bus and Ferry Passengers


City Line Passengers


Total Passengers

Total Vehicles

Passengers Increase

Vehicles Increase






































































































































Source: Koraltürk, İstanbul’da Deniz Ulaşımı, p. 163.

Due to serious government investment in the highways, as well as investment by the İETT (Istanbul Electric Tram and Tunnel Company) in bus transportation during the 1980s, the number of passengers who preferred sea vehicles for intra-city transportation declined, and the number of City Lines’ passengers decreased considerably. The Denizcilik Bank, which owned and operated the City Lines, came under the jurisdiction of the Türkiye Denizcilik Kurumu (Turkish Maritime Administration) in 1983; in 1984 this administration was replaced by the Türkiye Denizcilik İşletmeleri Müdürlüğü (Turkish Maritime Enterprises General Management). From 1985 onwards, as part of a renewal project, the company ordered a total of 44 passenger and car ferries, and began putting old ferries that used coal out of commission. This project, completed in 1990, renewed the City Lines fleet to a large extent, and its service area increased with the addition of new routes. In this period, the City Lines Administration carried approximately 200,000 passengers daily on a total of 75 ferries; fifty of these were passenger ferries and twenty-five were car ferries; the passengers were transported between 46 piers. In accordance with a decision taken by the Privatization High Commission in March 2005, the fleet, consisting of one passenger steamship, one ferryboat, twenty service boats, 47 City Lines ferries, 15 of which were vehicle ferries, 31 of which were passenger steamboats fully in operation, and other units, making a total of 84 units, were sold to the Istanbul Sea Buses Company (İDO), an enterprise affiliated with the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, along with the 56 piers.15 Immediately before the privatization of İDO in 2011, the municipality separated the passenger ferries and the lines that operated between the two continents from the company in September of 2010; the municipality reestablished the City Lines service. The City Lines ferries and piers were transferred to a new company, known as İstanbul Şehir Hatları Turizm ve Tic. San. A.Ş. In 2012 the City Lines ferries carried over 50 million passengers on a total of 216,000 voyages.16 The share of City Lines within the total Istanbul maritime transportation is 42.9 percent.

Another company that was handed down from the Ottoman era to the Turkish Republic is the Şirket-i Hayriye (lit. Goodwill Company), established in 1850. This company continued to operate after the declaration of the Republic as well. The Şirket-i Hayriye, which had 25 ships in 1923, was carrying an average of 32,600 passengers per day in 1927.17 The company, which between 1936 and 1938 also published a magazine entitled Boğaziçi (Bosphorus), was purchased by the Ministry of Transport on July 1, 1944, together with all its boats, moveable and non-moveable assets; this was handed over to the City Lines Administration in 1944. On January 15, 1945, the company was dissolved with Statute 4517.18

Table 2 - The Number of Passengers and Vehicles Transported by İDO by Year.*






2013 3M




2013 3M









Grafik 4- Passenger and Vehicle Transportation Shares of İDO by Year.

3- Karaköy Ferry Pier

* The data is taken from Burcu Erbaş Çakar, the Press Counselor of İDO, via an email dated 29 April 2013.

4- Passenger ships and boats in Eminönü

Graph 5- The Percentage of Passengers Using Maritime Transportation in Istanbul


The Haliç Vapurları İdaresi (Haliç Steamboats Administration) was established in 1856 and operated between the piers on both sides of the Golden Horn; this administration had also been handed down from the Ottoman era. It carried passengers, freight and post; in 1910 it became a corporation and continued to carry out its activities as a joint-stock company.19 Carrying a total of 7,464,385 passengers in 1927, the company was unable to compensate for the severe effects of the 1929 crisis. In addition, it had its own financial problems, and had started to head towards financial collapse, unable to repay its loans to the Istanbul Municipal Council; in 1931, the total number of passengers fell to 4,944,101. The Istanbul Municipality, unable to collect its debt, confiscated the company in 1935. However, the company proved to be more of a burden than an asset for the municipality; on July 2, 1941, the moveable and non-moveable assets (11 ships and 13 piers) were transferred to the Devlet Denizyolları İşletmesi (State Maritime Administration) according to Statute 4083. This legally ended the Haliç Vapurları Şirketi. The Golden Horn line was now a part of the City Lines Administration.20

Istanbul Sea Buses Industry and Trade Incorporated (İDO)

In an attempt to solve the maritime transportation and traffic issues of the city the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality established the İstanbul Ulaşım ve Ticaret A.Ş (Istanbul Transportation and Trade Corporation) on April 6, 1987; transportation problems were the direct result of the constantly increasing population. The traffic problem had reached unbearable levels and the City Lines Administration proved inadequate to provide sufficient maritime transportation.21 The initial goal was to find solutions for the city’s inadequate land and maritime transportation problems, and to provide speedy and comfortable transportation options, specifically for distant destinations within the city. The most important characteristics that distinguished sea buses from passenger ferries were their high-speed, their rapid maneuvering capability, and their comfort level.22 The company’s first sea buses were Çaka Bey and Karamürsel Bey, both imported from Norway in 1987. Sea buses began operating on May 29, 1987, the anniversary date of the conquest of Istanbul, along the Bostancı-Kabataş route.23 In order to meet popular demand, three more sea buses were purchased the same year, the Çavlı Bey, Ulubatlı Hasan and Yeditepe. On September 2, 1988, the name of the company was changed to İstanbul Deniz Otobüsleri Sanayi ve Ticaret A.Ş. (İDO). With the addition of the Hezarfen Ahmed Çelebi, Nusret Bey, Sarıca Bey, Uluç Ali Reis and Umur Bey, the total number of seabuses in the fleet increased to 10.

5- The tram line between Topkapı and Sirkeci (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

In 1992, two sea bus ports, one in Kadıköy and one in Kartal, were opened for service. Two sea buses, the Ertuğrul Gazi and the Akşemseddin, were purchased from Australia in 1994. The akbil (electronic ticket) began to be used the following year on all İDO ships. The first domestically produced sea bus, Temel Reis I, was constructed and launched in 1997. The Yalova and Yenikapı docks were opened to service in 1997 and ferry services along the Marmara line were launched with two ships constructed in Australia, the Cezayirli Hasan Paşa and Turgut Reis. With the Bandırma Dock opening to service in 1998, the length of trips to Bursa and the Aegean Sea were shortened. The Pendik, Beykoz and Tuzla docks were opened the same year; the Temel Reis II, constructed at the Pendik shipyard, was also launched in this year.

6- Eminönü Tram Station (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Atatürk Library)

The Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa and Sokullu Mehmet Paşa sea buses, produced at the Pendik shipyard with domestic resources, were added to the fleet in 2000; in addition, the Yalova ferryboat terminal was opened to service. The Yenikapı-Güzelyalı line was opened to service in 2004. The Istanbul Municipality took over the city lines administration in 2005 and handed it over to İDO in order to bring together the management of Istanbul’s maritime transportation in a single center. İDO renewed 32 city line steamboats and 56 docks by the end of the following year. With these investments, İDO’s total share in intra-city maritime transportation increased from 3 percent to 4.5 percent; the service capacity also increased, with 60 main routes and 250 intermediary routes.24 The company, which made tremendous progress after the amalgamation of maritime transportation under one roof, was sold to the Tepe-Akfen-Souter-Sera joint venture for 861 million dollars after being privatized in April 2011. As a result, the car ferries, sea buses, fast ferryboats and the piers/docks were all utilized; however, these did not include the old city-line ships and their docks, which were transferred to the new administration.25

The International Fast Ferry Organization, which includes among its members maritime transportation companies, ship builders and financial institutions, declared İDO as a world leader company in 2006 in the categories of number of passenger transportation, the total amount of ships owned, the number of routes operated and transportation capacity.26 At the moment, İDO has 53 ships, 35 terminals27 and 10 fast ferries. İDO also has 25 sea buses of 4 different types that provide service within the company,28 and 18 vehicle ferries of 4 different types, which are utilized along the Sirkeci-Harem and Eskihisar-Topçular routes.29 İDO’s share in the total sea transportation of Istanbul today is 27.7 percent.

Shared Taxi (Dolmuş) Motorboats

In addition to the operation of public shared taxi vehicles on the roads in Istanbul, privately owned motorboats were also available for shared maritime transportation. Ahmet Ağaoğlu Enabir Kaptan began providing services with three motorboats, which he purchased in 1930s and named the Marmara, the Karadeniz and the Ege. With an increase in the number of private taxi motorboats and the number of routes along which they operated, on February 9, 1955 the Istanbul municipality signed a regulation protocol with Maritime Dolmuş Motorboats, and formulated their working principles. 43 motorboats, with a total passenger capacity of 150 people, were operating in 1965. Today, the share of passengers for motorboats belonging to the Dentur Avrasya, Turyol and Mavi Marmara cooperatives in Istanbul is 29.3 percent.30 According to the latest data, the share of maritime transportation vehicles for intra-city transportation in Istanbul is 2.53 percent, significantly below where it should be.

Graph 6- Number of Passengers Using the Rail System Operated by the Municipality, by Year (1989-2012)

Source: (12.05.2013).


Railway Transportation


7- The tram line between Şişli and Karaköy (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

From the nineteenth century, when the institutionalization of maritime transportation began in the Ottoman State, horse-drawn trams began to be used for intra-city transportation in Istanbul. Upon being granted a license to construct and operate horse-drawn trams on August 30, 1869, Konstantin Karapano Efendi established the İstanbul Tramvay Şirketi (Istanbul Tram Company). Subsequent to this, efforts were made to make the streets of the city suitable for trams.31 As the need appeared, new lines were added for the first horse-drawn tram line. The Azapkapı-Beşiktaş line was launched on July 31, 1871. The name of the İstanbul Tramvay Şirketi was changed to the Dersaadet Tramvay Şirketi in 1881. However, from 1914 onwards electric trams began to be used. In 1915, 30,805,523 passengers used trams in Istanbul; in 1924 this number grew to 58,665,024.32

In 1927, travelling along a thirty-one kilometer network, the Dersaadet Tramvay Şirketi transported an average of 183,000 passengers daily. The Fatih-Edirnekapı rail system was opened for service in 1929. The company, which took the name of İstanbul Tramvay Şirketi on February 20, 1931, carried an average of 177,200 passengers per day along a 35.5 kilometer route in 1935. Following an agreement with the Üsküdar, Kısıklı, Alemdağı Halk Tramvayları Türk Anonim Şirketi, which had been established on February 19, 1928, the Üsküdar-Bağlarbaşı-Kısıklı tram line was opened on June 8, 1928; the Üsküdar-Haydarpaşa and Bağlarbaşı-Karacaahmet lines followed. The license to open lines connecting Kadıköy to Haydarpaşa, Moda, Fenerbahçe and Gazhane was given to the company; this company later became the Üsküdar-Kadıköy ve Havalisi Halk Tramvayları. The Üsküdar, Kısıklı, Alemdağı Halk Tramvayları Şirketi transported an average of 17,800 passengers daily along its twenty-four-kilometer line.33

8- An accident on the tram line between Edirnekapı and Bahçekapı (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

The electric tram and tünel (tunnel) enterprises, which were run by foreign companies, were nationalized in 1939. Then, they took on their current identity as part of İETT and this organization was transferred to the municipality. In 1945, Istanbul trams were carrying an average of 275,200 passengers daily, and the Üsküdar-Kadıköy trams carried 39,500 passengers daily.34 On March 16, 1955, the Anadolu Yakası Üsküdar ve Havalisi Tramvay İşletmesi (Üsküdar-Kadıköy Halk Tramvayları Şirketi) was also incorporated into İETT.35 One-third of the tram lines, which had been neglected as part of Istanbul’s transportation network from the second half of the 1950s onwards, were dismantled after 1957. In fact, while 270 wagons operated along 56 lines in 1956, in 1960, 16 lines were being operated, with only 130 wagons.36 The trams were removed altogether from the European side on August 12, 1961, and from the Anatolian side on November 14, 1966.

Buses and trolleybuses replaced the trams. The trolleybuses, ordered from the Italian company Ansaldo San Giorgio Company in 1956 and 1957, began operating on May 27, 1961. The first trolleybus line was opened for service between Eminönü-Topkapı in 1961. By 1965 the length of the trolleybus lines had reached a total of 90 km.37 A trolleybus produced by İETT workers, which they called Tosun, began operating in 1968. As trolleybuses were powered through double aerial electric lines, they would be stranded during a power outage. As the stranded vehicles would cause traffic jams, it became difficult to follow the schedule. Due to this problem, trolleybuses were totally removed from Istanbul traffic on July 16, 1984 and 75 trolleybuses were sold to the İzmir Municipality.

9- Beyazıt tram line (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

Map 1- Rail Line between Istanbul and Ankara.

Source: “T.C. Devlet Demiryolları 2006-2010 İstatistik Yıllığı”, 14.05.2013,

10- The opening of the subway between Şişhane, the Golden Horn and Yenikapı

11- The opening ceremony of Marmaray

In order to find a solution to the increasingly unbearable traffic congestion in Istanbul, towards the end of the 1980s rail systems were once again seriously considered. A line was opened to operate between Aksaray and Ferhatpaşa in 1989. The same line was later extended to Yenibosna, and on December 20, 2002, to the Atatürk International Airport. Everyday an average of 220,000 passengers travels on this system, known as the Aksaray-Airport light rail, or the M1 Line.38 Another rail system is the Sirkeci-Aksaray line, which was opened for service in 1992. The line was initially connected to Topkapı and Zeytinburnu, and later on to Eminönü; the line was extended to Kabataş on June 29, 2006 and the system became integrated with the Taksim-Kabataş funicular, and, consequently, with the Taksim-4th Levent metro line. As a result, the residents of Istanbul were now able to travel without interruption from 4th Levent to the Airport via the railway. Every day, an average of 320,000 passengers uses this line. Referred to as the T1 system today, it was connected with the Zeytinburnu-Bağcılar line, or the T2 line, on February 3, 2011. As a result, passengers can now travel from Kabataş to Bağcılar without interruption via rail transportation.39

Graph 7- The Distribution of Passengers on Rail Lines Managed by the Istanbul Municipality by Year (1989–2012)

Source: (12.05.2013).

Another rail system on the European side is the Istanbul Metro. The preparation stage of the Istanbul Metro took place in 1985; the project was designed in 1988 and its construction began in 1992. The Istanbul Metro was completed on September 16, 2000. This system, which initially served the route between Taksim-4th Levent, and known as the M2 line, was expanded over time to include the segment between Şişhane-Hacıosman. Every day, an average of 230,000 passengers uses this line.40 The other rail-based system on the European side is the Taksim-Kabataş line. The decision to construct a funicular between Taksim-Kabataş41 was taken to integrate Istanbul’s rail system and modernize transportation with rapid options. The line, which was contracted on January 20, 2002, was completed and began operating on June 29, 2006. The Taksim-Kabataş funicular system took on the task of acting as a bridge that united the Şişhane-Hacıosman Metro line, the Taksim (Karaköy) tunnel, the Taksim tram, İETT and public buses, the Dolmuş stops, the Kabataş-Bağcılar tram line, and the İDO boat, ferryboat, and sea bus piers, thus integrating Istanbul’s intra-city transportation. The system, now referred to as F1, serves an average of 30,000 passengers every day.42

Graph 8- The Transportation Shares of the Istanbul Railway System

Source: (06.05.2013).

Graph 9- Number of Passengers Using Istanbul Commuter Trains (1,000 people/year)

The construction of the Başakşehir metro line, also referred to as the M3 line, began in 2006. The line was to be completed by 2011, however, due to technical difficulties; it still has to be completed.43 The line that serves between Başakşehir-Kirazlı-Olimpiyatköy was opened in 14 June, 2013. The Kirazlı metro station, which will serve the line that runs between Başakşehir-Kirazlı-Olimpiyatköy, is a transfer point for the Otogar (Main Bus Station)-Kirazlı line, which is being constructed as a continuation of the current Aksaray-Otogar-Airport M1 line. By being able to transfer at this station, passengers who get on at Başakşehir can travel non-stop to Aksaray.44 Daily an average of 95,000 passengers uses the Topkapı-Habipler Tram line, also referred to as the T4; this line is also on the European side of the city.45 In addition to these rail-based systems, there are also the Maçka-Taşkışla and Eyüp-Piyerloti cable car lines in Istanbul. An average of 1,000 people uses the Maçka Cable Car, which began operating on April 11, 1993.46 The daily passenger capacity of the Pierre Loti Cable Car, which opened to service on December 31, 2005, is 4,000 passengers.47

Table 3 - Rail Systems in Some Cities

City Name

Length (km)

Total amount of passengers (daily)













Source: (06.05.2013).

On the Anatolian side, the Kadıköy-Moda nostalgic tram line was reopened for service on November 1, 2003, following an intermission of thirty-seven years. The tram, which departs from Kadıköy Square, follows the bus route and goes along Bahariye Street, arriving back at Kadıköy Square via Bahariye Street. This tram, which is also referred to as the T3, carries an average of 1,800 passengers daily.48

Table 4- The Number of Passengers Using Istanbul’s Commuter Lines (1.000 people/year)
























Source: “T.C. Devlet Demiryolları 2006-2010 İstatistik Yıllığı”, 14.05.2013,

With the purpose of integrating the intra-city transportation on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, it was decided to construct a metro line underneath the D-100 (E-5) highway, also referred to as the Ankara Highway. Bidding on the Kadıköy-Kartal metro was completed in 2004, but as the contracting companies were unable to complete the project on time, it was recontracted in 2008. The first test run on this metro line, known as the M4 Kadıköy-Kartal metro took place on May 8, 2012. It was opened to service on 17 August, 2012. Work is currently underway to extend this line to Kaynarca. Passengers travelling on this line are able to connect with the city lines at the Kadıköy Station, the İDO lines and the Moda nostalgic tram system. In addition, passengers can transfer to the Marmaray at Ayrılıkceşmesi station, and the Metrobus system at the Ünalan Station.49

Another rail system, currently under construction, is intended to ease traffic congestion on the Anatolian side of Istanbul; this is the Üsküdar-Sancaktepe metro line. The foundation of the system was laid on June 6, 2012, and the system is anticipated to be completed in thirty-eight months.50 According to the contract, the line should be completed by May 4, 2015,51 and plans are underway to extend the line as far as Sabiha Gökçen Airport, via Taşdelen and Sultanbeyli.52

One of the most important investments in Istanbul’s intra-city transportation is the Marmaray project. The system is aimed towards improving the commuter line railways in Istanbul. It passes under the Bosphorus via a tunnel, and will be connected to both Halkalı and Gebze, forming a modern, high capacity commuter line railway system. Railway lines on both sides of the Istanbul Bosphorus will be connected to one another with that goes under the Bosphorus. The line will go underground at Kazlıçeşme, towards along Yenikapı and Sirkeci; from here it passes underneath the Bosphorus and reappears above ground at Söğütlüçeşme, connecting to another new underground station, in Üsküdar. The project will serve both passengers as well as freight. The system has begun to operate recently, and it is predicted that traffic on the Boğaziçi and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridges will decrease and traffic congestion in Istanbul will be eased. The total length of the line is 76.3 km and it is estimated that in each direction it will carry 75,000 passengers every hour.53 On October 29, 2013, Marmaray was opened, to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.54

Another project that would connect two sides of Istanbul via a tunnel is Avrasya Karayolu Tüp Geçiş Projesi (Eurasian Highway Tube Tunnel Project). Put in a tender on 30 June, 2008, the project will not only provide an alternative and fast transition from the Bosphorus, but also it will make the transportation between Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen Airports easier. The project, which was undertaken by Turkish-Korean collaboration, is planned to be finished by the end of 2015.55 When this project, which is being constructed as two-layered between D-100 Highway (E-5) Göztepe Intersection and Kazlıçeşme on the coast road of Florya-Sirkeci, is completed, the distance that used to take 100 minutes will decrease to 15 minutes. On both directions of the tube tunnel, which is thought to be used by 90,000-100,000 vehicles per day, there will be toll booths.56


12- The plan of the railway system in Istanbul (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality)

13- Coaches between Edirne and Istanbul (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality,Kültür A.Ş.)

Another rail-based form of public transportation, which was inherited from the Ottoman era and is still functioning in Istanbul, is the Karaköy Tünel. The license to construct and operate an underground railway system between Galata and Beyoğlu (Pera) was granted to the French engineer Henri Gavand. The Tünel, constructed upon being granted this license, was opened for service with a ceremony on January 17, 1875.57 The people’s interest in the Tünel continued during the Republic Era as well. While between 1924 and 1929 the total amount of passengers travelling in the Tünel was 10,000,000, the number dropped to 8,427,000 in 1930 and 5,469,000 in 1938. The Tünel, which was purchased for 175,000 lira and nationalized on March 1, 1939, was transferred to the İETT General Directorate on June 16, 1939. Due to extraordinary circumstances, certain necessary supplies could not be purchased during the Second World War; as a result, the Tünel provided limited service during the 1940s, and came to a full halt in 1968. Following a three-year endeavor by the French company L’Electro Entreprise, the power force of the Tünel was changed into electricity and opened to service once again on November 2, 1971.58

14- Traffic control point on Taksim route (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality,Kültür A.Ş.)

15- The minibuses working between Kadıköy and Fenerbahçe (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

Graph 10- Number of İETT Routes according to Year (2010-2012)

Source: “2012 İETT Faaliyet Raporu”, 15.05.2013,

Graph 11- Number of İETT Trips according to Year (2010-2012)

Source: “2012 İETT Faaliyet Raporu”, 15.05.2013,

Commuter Trains

Another rail system which was built in Istanbul in the nineteenth century was the railroad. Railroad transportation between Yedikule and Küçükçekmece (Yedikule-Bakırköy-Yeşilköy-Küçükçekmece), which was opened on 4 January, 1871, made its first passenger transportation on 5 January. The Sirkeci-Yedikule and Küçükçekmece-Çatalca lines were opened for service in the following year; it was possible to travel on train from Sirkeci to Çatalca. Later, the Sirkeci-Yeşilköy line was transformed into a double-track line.59 On the Anatolian side however, the ninety-one-kilometer-long Haydarpaşa-İzmit line was constructed between 1871 and 1873. After permission was granted for the establishment of the Anadolu Demiryolları (Anatolian Railroads) to the Deutsche Bank in 1888, the line was sold to the Anadolu Demiryolu Şirketi (Anatolian Railway Company). In the 1890s, a train departing from Haydarpaşa could travel to Kızıltoprak, Göztepe, Erenköy, Bostancı, Maltepe, Kartal, Pendik, Tuzla, Gebze, Diliskelesi, Tavşancı, Hereke and Yarımca. In 1928, the Anadolu Demiryolu Şirketi was purchased by the government.60 By 1935, the number of passengers on Istanbul’s commuter lines had declined to 3,000,000, and the share of commuter lines within the intra-city transportation system was the lowest of all in Istanbul, at 3.07 percent.61

In 1937, with the purchase and nationalization of the Şark Demiryolları Şirketi (Oriental Railway Company), which operated the railways on the European side, commuter lines on both the Anatolian and European sides were under the control of the government. The segment between Yeşilköy and Çekmece was transformed into a double-track line. The Sirkeci-Halkalı Commuter Line, which had been switched to electricity in the following year, was then integrated with a signaling system after June 3, 1956.62 The segment between Pendik and Tuzla was transformed into a double-track line on July 1, 1961, as were the rails between Tuzla and Gebze on July 20, 1963. The Haydarpaşa-Gebze line was transformed into an electrical system in 1969.63 While a total of 222,100 passengers travelled on both commuter lines in 1975, this number fell to 212,000 in 1980. The purchase of new buses by İETT and the decline in comfort on commuter trains, due to the large volume of passengers, played a role in this decline. 64 While 40,301,000 passengers travelled on both lines in 2006, this number reached 44,143,000 in 2007 and 48,677,000 in 2010.

Today, as part of the Marmaray project, the Anatolian and European commuter lines are being renovated. Marmaray Project was opened to service on 29 October, 2013, with an opening ceremony. With Marmaray line, which connects the station of Ayrılıkçeşme and Kadıköy-Kartal metro, the passengers will be able to travel from Gebze to Halkalı non-stop. In addition to the Marmaray Project, work is continuing on the high-speed train line between Istanbul and Ankara. When work on the high-speed train line has been completed, the journey between Istanbul and Ankara, which at the present time takes seven hours, will be approximately three hours.65 At the moment, the Istanbul tram and metro lines are managed and operated by Ulaşım A.Ş., which is affiliated with the Istanbul municipality. The company’s share in intra-city passenger transportation of Istanbul is 9.1 percent. The share of commuter lines, which are operated by TCDD (Turkish Republican Rail Roads), in the intra-city transportation is 1.07 percent.

Land Transportation [Taxi-Dolmuş, Dolmuş (Minibus), Automobile, Bus and Metrobus].

Automobiles became more common after the Second Constitutional Period. After the First World War, the number of automobiles in Istanbul rapidly increased, exceeding 1,000 by 1927. Even though an automobile assembly factory was established in Tophane in 1928 after an agreement was signed with Ford, and this area was given a free zone status, it failed to develop due to the global economic crisis in 1929.66 The first taxi-dolmuş (shared cars that follow a certain route, picking up passengers anywhere along that route) transportation in Istanbul began in the 1930s, between Eminönü and Nişantaşı. The constant increase of tram usage in Istanbul transportation, the high rate of taxi fares, and the 1929 crisis, which seriously affected Turkey, all had a negative effect on the development of the taxi-dolmuş.67

Map 2- The Road Network between Istanbul and Surrounding Provinces.

Source: “İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi, İstanbul Metropoliten Alanı Kentsel Ulaşım AnaPlanı (İUAP)”, 15.05.2013,

Graph 12- Total Number of Passengers Travelling on the Metrobus according to year (2010-2012)

Source: “2012 İETT Faaliyet Raporu”, 15.05.2013,

Following the establishment of the Eminönü-Nişantaşı line, the Beyazıt-Fatih and Şişli-Pangaltı taxi-dolmuş lines were established. The real development in this form of transportation took place after 1945. Istanbul was receiving a constant influx of migrants, making the use of the taxi-dolmuş as a form of transportation more popular. In 1950, 9.6 percent of intra-city land route transportation in Istanbul was carried out by taxi-dolmuş; in 1955, this figure reached 20 percent. Fixed dolmuş lines were established during these years, and the operation of the dolmuş routes were brought under regulation. The first regular dolmuş line to be established was the Taksim-Karaköy line. As a result, 7 passenger dolmuş vehicles, converted from taxis, appeared. From 1954 onwards, the fares of the dolmuş routes were established according to the specific route and to formal tariff regulations.

16- The central terminal of Istanbul Automobile Turkish Corporate Company (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

In 1935, 1815 of the 4,349 automobiles in Turkey and 173 of the 747 buses in Turkey were in Istanbul.68 Both the increase in the use of automobiles as well as the entry of buses into the city’s traffic brought the construction of roads, both in the city, and outside the city, onto the agenda. The consolidation of the Istanbul governorship with the mayor’s office made it easier to make such investments. In this period, the Şişli-Sarıyer roads on the European side and the Çengelköy-Beykoz roads on the Anatolian side were built; moreover, the roads from Yedikule to Bakırköy, from Topkapı to Küçükçekmece, Sarıyer to Çobançeşme, Feneryolu to Bostancı, Selamiçeşme to Maltepe and from Kartal to Yakacık were covered with asphalt. Cobblestone roads were built from Sütlüce to the Hürriyet Abidesi (Freedom Monument) in Şişli, and from Kısıklı to Ümraniye.69 The number of automobile and bus in the city increased significantly after the Second World War, particularly after 1950.70

In time, minibuses also became a part of the intra-city land transportation of Istanbul. Eleven passenger minibuses, imported towards the end of the 1950s, began to be used as a dolmuş. Otosan Company started producing Ford minibuses in 1961, and as a result the number of minibuses in Istanbul increased rapidly. While the number of minibuses that began to operate between business districts in the city and distant residential areas was only 200 in 1960, this number increased to 1,700 by 1965. When the number of licenses for taxi, dolmuş and minibuses was stopped in 1966, there were 15,203 taxis in Istanbul, 505 yellow-striped dolmuş, and 3,269 minibuses; 80 percent of the taxis were operating as taxi-dolmuş.71 With minibuses being integrated into the system, the dolmuş and minibus lines were separated. The taxi-dolmuşs would operate between the main parts of the city, while minibuses would operate between the main parts and the areas where shanty towns were appearing.

Tablo 5- Distribution of Passengers Daily by Transportation Type







İETT Metrobus





Land: 87,30

Public: 15,07

Private: 72,23  






Private Bus





Istanbul Bus Corporation










Dolmuş Taxi















Service Vehicles










Rail: 10,17

Public: 10,18

Private: 0,00  

Light Rail (metro)





Metro (subway)





Street Tram










Moda Tram





İETT Funicular





Kabataş Funicular





Cable Car





Şehir Hatları A.Ş.





Sea: 2,53

Public: 1,08

Private: 1,44






Sea Motors










Private: 73,67 Public: 26,33

Source: “İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi, İstanbul Metropoliten Alanı Kentsel Ulaşım Ana Planı (İUAP)”, 15.05.2013,

Graph 13- The distribution of daily passengers by transportation types

Source: (06.05.2013).

Graph 14- Percentage of Land Transportation in Istanbul Today

Source: (06.05.2013).

It is estimated that in 1970, minibuses transported approximately 695,000 passengers per day,72 while in 1985 this number rose to 1,850,000.73 With the constant increase in the number of minibuses and routes, the share of taxi-dolmuş in intra-city transport decreased. In fact, while their share in 1965 was 30.2 percent, this ratio fell to 20.4 percent in 1975 and to 11.91 percent in 1985. Reasons such as an increase in the number of privately owned automobiles, a preference for other public transportation vehicles, and workplaces offering transportation for their employees also played an effective role in this decline. In Istanbul minibus routes were banned in areas where rail systems had been installed. Today, the regulation of and working principles for taxis, dolmuş and taxi-dolmuş are established by the İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi Toplu Ulaşım Hizmetleri Müdürlüğü (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Public Transportation Service Directorate).

Buses began to become part of the intra-city transportation of Istanbul from the Second Constitutional Period. Even though buses began operating in the city in 1912, they were not widely used. Between 1926 and 1927 private investors operated buses between the Kadıköy Pier and Moda. In July 1928, the Tramvay Şirketi (Tram Company), which operated buses between Beyazıt and Eminönü from October 21, 1927 onwards, extended to Karaköy. With privately owned buses becoming more common in the same period, the municipality published a bus regulation in 1931. In 1935, ninety-seven privately-owned buses were operating on the Taksim-Yenimahalle-Rami and Keresteciler-Eyüp routes.74

Graph 15- Privately owned transportation vehicles in Istanbul

Source: (06.05.2013).

Graph 16- Percentages of Land, Sea and Rail Transportation in Istanbul

Source: (06.05.2013).

Graph 17- Percentages of Public Transportation Types in Istanbul

Source: (06.05.2013).

The establishment of the İETT also occurred around this time. The electric, tram and tunnel operations that were inherited from Ottoman times and which were managed by foreign companies were nationalized in 1939; these operations were transferred to the general directorate of the newly established İETT and placed under the control of the municipality. İETT continued to grow, despite conditions during the Second World War, and managed to create a significantly large bus fleet. In fact, 25 buses, carrying an average of 11,500 passengers daily, were operating in 1945. Even if the Üsküdar-Kadıköy ve Havalisi Tramvay Şirketi (Üsküdar-Kadıköy and Surrounding Area Tram Company) also began to offer bus services with five buses in 1943, it was not able to sustain the operation. A large garage and maintenance unit was opened in Şişli in 1947. With the liquidation of the Üsküdar-Kadıköy ve Havalisi Tramvay Şirketi in 1954, this company was joined to İETT in the following year; the number of vehicles increased to 196. İETT purchased a significant number of buses to meet the increasing demand after the trams had been abolished. By 1960, İETT had accumulated a fleet of 560 vehicles.75

Graph 18- The Airplane and Passenger Traffic at Istanbul International Airport.(2008-20012)

Source: Devlet Hava Meydanları İşletmesi Genel Müdürlüğü, 2012 Faaliyet Raporu”, 15.05.2013,

İETT established the Istanbul, Beyoğlu and Anatolian operations in 1970. While a total of 92 public buses operated in this period, the majority being on the European side,76 this number reached 145 in 1975. The Ikarus brand of articulated buses joined the fleet in 1979. Two lanes between Taksim-Levent were reserved for İETT buses, reducing travelling time from fifty minutes to nineteen minutes. The significant investment made by İETT in buses had a negative impact on privately owned buses. The new regulations passed by the municipality in 1982 to revitalize privately owned buses had a positive effect. By 1985, the number of privately owned buses had increased to 960. 77 It is assumed that İETT, which continued to make investments in later years, transported a total of 1 billion passengers78 in 2012 on a total of 5,349 buses, 2,695 of which were owned by the municipality, with the rest being privately owned buses.

One of the most important transportation investments made by the Istanbul municipality in the 2000s was the metrobus. The municipality searched for a solution to the increasing traffic on the D-100 highway, finding the solution with the metrobus system; the metrobus was initially launched on the Avcılar-Topkapı metrobus route in 2007. The duration of the journey, normally sixty-seven minutes, was reduced to twenty-two minutes. The Topkapı-Zincirlikuyu line, the second stage of the project, began operating on May 8, 2008; the third stage, the Söğütlüçeşme-Zincirlikuyu line, began operating on March 3, 2009. With the Avcılar-Beylikdüzü line becoming operational in July 16, 2012, the length of the metrobus reached a total of fifty-two kilometers.79 As of 2012, the metrobus system provides a twenty-four-hour uninterrupted service with 410 vehicle fleet, operating on six routes (34, 34A, 34B, 34C, 34G and 34Z). The metrobus system transported a total of 175 million passengers in 2010, 194 million in 2011, and 204 million in 2012.

17- The outer view of Yeşilköy / Atatürk airport in 1950s (<em>İstanbul’un Kitabı</em>)

The introduction of buses to the intra-city traffic of Istanbul and the increasing number of automobiles made the quality of roads an issue. In the era in which Lütfi Kırdar was mayor and governor, the Eminönü, Sirkeci, Beyazıt and Sultanahmet squares were expanded as part of the Henri Prost80 program, which was applied between 1938 and 1949. Moreover, the newly opened Atatürk Boulevard was 50 meters wide and extended from Yenikapı, Aksaray, Saraçhanebaşı to Unkapanı, connecting to Beyoğlu via the Gazi Bridge. The Yenikapı-Aksaray portion of Atatürk Boulevard had been constructed in 1925, before the Prost plan. The Unkapanı-Saraçhanebaşı section was completed in 1942, and the Saraçhanebaşı-Aksaray section was completed in 1944. Another road that was opened in the region was the parallel road that connected Yedikule, outside the city walls, to Eyüp via Ayvansaray. Hence, the construction of the road connecting Istanbul to international highways and the London-Istanbul-Baghdad road was completed.

As part of the Prost plan, the Üsküdar and Kadıköy pier squares on the Anatolian side were renovated, the Üsküdar-Beykoz road was widened, and the Haydarpaşa Bridge and Rıhtım Street between Kadıköy and Haydarpaşa were built.81 Due to the constantly increasing number of vehicles from the second half of the 1950s onwards, and as the traffic congestion demanded an initiative, the decision to apply parts of the Prost plan which had been neglected was taken; the Aksaray, Beyazıt, Eminönü, Karaköy, Tophane and Taksim squares and roads were restructured and renovated. However, while the plan was being implemented, both during the single-party era as well as during the multi-party period, the city’s architectural and historical heritage was not protected and numerous historical buildings were destroyed. On the Anatolian side, the Haydarpaşa-Pendik highway and Bağdat Street, which extended from Kurbağalıdere to Bostancı, were constructed.82 In the second half of the 1960s, particularly during the mayoral period of Haşim İşcan, an underpass was constructed at Karaköy square, and a clover-leaf junction in Unkapanı, and an underpass named Haşim İşcan in Saraçhanebaşı were also built in order to ease traffic.

18- The runway at Yeşilköy / Atatürk airport in 1950s (<em>İstanbul’un Kitabı</em>)

19- Passengers getting on a plane at Yeşilköy / Atatürk airport in 1950s (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Kültür A.Ş.)

With the opening of the Bosphorus Bridge on October 29, 1973, on the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic, the European and Asian sides were connected via a land route.83 This connection system not only had an effect on the locations of investment and residential areas within the city, but it also caused the municipality to revise the application of its plans based on this new parameter. These investments and the choices that were dependent upon them created an important problem for Istanbul: traffic jam.84 In order to find a solution to the increasing traffic jam, it was decided to construct a second bridge across the Bosphorus. Construction of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge began in 1985, and the bridge was completed and opened to traffic on July 3, 1988.85 The D-100 (E-5) Highway, or what was known previously as the Ankara Road, connects with the Bosphorus Bridge; while the O-4 Highway or what was known as the Anadolu Highway connects with the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge, connecting Edirne and Ankara through Istanbul.86 However, the Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridges were not able to provide a solution for Istanbul’s ever increasing traffic problem. It is for this reason that a third bridge was decided to be built between Sarıyer Garipçe village and Beykoz Poyrazköy. Its foundation was laid on 29 May, 2013 and named as Yavuz Sultan Selim.

20- A plane from Turkish Airlines is in Istanbul air in 1950s (<em>İstanbul’un Kitabı</em>)

Bus Terminals

With the expansion of the transportation network in Istanbul and Turkey in the 1950s, passenger capacity and vehicle circulation increased. Irregular intercity bus trips, which at first departed from Üsküdar, later leaving from in front of the pier in Kadıköy on the Anatolian side; and from Sirkeci, Aksaray and Laleli on the European side, and the company offices in these locations made city traffic even more complicated. The density and the increase in traffic made the construction of bus terminals necessary. The Uluslararası Anadolu ve Trakya Otobüsçüler Derneği (International Anatolia and Thrace Bus Operators’ Association), established in 1970, initially laid the foundation for the Harem Terminal, built on land that had been gained via landfill. With bus companies moving their terminals to different locations on the Anatolian side, the work load in Harem was slightly relieved. Even though plans were made at one point to transfer the terminal to a more suitable place, this was never implemented. The Harem ferryboat (İDO Car Ferry) pier is next to the Harem Bus Terminal, which is still active and acts as the starting point of the D-100 (E-5) highway.

Due to increasing traffic density and congestion, the bus operators in Sirkeci and Aksaray were removed from these locations and relocated to Topkapı. This bus terminal, known as the Anatolian Bus Terminal, began to operate in July, 1971. Because the city continued to grow and as over time the Anatolian Bus Terminal, together with the Thrace Bus Terminal created tremendous traffic congestion in the area, a decision to construct a new bus terminal at a more suitable location in Esenler, located between the O-4 (TEM, Anatolian Highway) and the D-100 highways was made. The new bus terminal, Büyük İstanbul Otogarı (Grand Istanbul Bus Terminal), began operations on May 5, 1994.87


Planes were used in warfare for the first time during the War of Tripoli (1911–1912), for purposes of reconnaissance and propaganda. They were also used during the First World War to make attacks; over time, airplanes became an indispensable component of air transportation. The Ottoman General Staff decided to form an air force following the War of Tripoli and established a military aviation commission. The commission, headed by General Staff Lieutenant Colonel Süreyya (İlmen) Bey immediately began working on constructing an airport and an academy.88 As a result of the research carried out by the commission, a suitable place was found a few kilometers to the north of San Stefano (Yeşilköy) and this area was the starting point of today’s Atatürk (Yeşilköy) Airport. In addition, preparations to open an aviation academy began during the first few months of 1912.89 Upon Süreyya Bey’s proposal, cross-border maps that included aviation rules and no-fly zones for foreign pilots were prepared on December 9, 1913.90

Table 6 - Istanbul Atatürk Airport, Plane and Passenger Data (2008-2012).




Domestic Flights



International Flights







Domestic Flights



International Flights







Domestic Flights



International Flights







Domestic Flights



International Flights







Domestic Flights



International Flights






Graph 19- Sabiha Gökcen Airport Traffic Report(2001-2012).

Source: Devlet Hava Meydanları İşletmesi Genel Müdürlüğü, 2012 Faaliyet Raporu”, 15.05.2013,

Table 7 - Sabiha Gökcen Airport Traffic Report Data(2001-2012)


Domestic Flights Passenger amounts

International Flights Passenger amounts

Total amount of passengers

















































A commission that was to establish civilian aviation services in Turkey was first convened in June 1924; the decision to establish Tayyarecilik Tetkikat Türk Anonim Şirketi (Turkish Joint Stock Company of Aviation Controlling) was made on December 7, 1924.91 With the establishment of the Turkish Aviation Society, later to become the Turkish Aeronautical Association on February 16, 1925,92 the institutional foundations for Turkish civilian aviation were established. The air traffic regulations prepared by the Ministry of Trade was approved by the Council of Ministers and published as a bylaw on September 9, 1925. With changes made to air traffic regulations on July 22, 1928, the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts were partially open to foreign air traffic.93

The first airline companies were more interested in obtaining secured air mail agreements and government subsidies than in carrying passengers or freight. Turkey, Istanbul in particular, due to its geographical location, could become an important center for commercial aviation. The German Junkers Plane Company,94 which had been trying to establish a local airline company in Turkey from 1921 onwards, successfully completed the first scheduled air mail flight between Istanbul and Ankara on January 14, 1924.95 The French airline company, Compagnie Franco-Roumaine de Navigation Aérienne (CFRNA), which had been conducting aeronautical operations in Turkey from 1922 onwards, began carrying airmail between Istanbul and Bucharest in 1923. Turkey, realizing the importance of connecting the new capital, Ankara, with other European cities, in September of 1924 gave CFRNA permission to begin an Istanbul-Ankara service over a three-month test period. The company, which changed its name to Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aérienne (CIDNA) at the beginning of 1925, was given permission to carry airmail on behalf of the Turkish Post and Telegraph Directorate. According to an agreement signed on August 17, 1925 between the Ministry of Public Works and CIDNA, the latter was responsible for the transportation of regular, urgent and official letters between Istanbul and other European capitals via Bucharest and Sofia.96 The Italian Aero Espresso Italiana (AEI) company began foreign civillian flights on August 1, 1926, carrying passengers on seaplanes between Istanbul (Büyükdere) and Athens-Brindisi and Istanbul (Büyükdere)-Athens-Rhodes.97 The German Lufthansa Transportation Company also began carrying mail on May 5, 1930, making summer flights between Istanbul and Berlin via Sofia, Budapest and Vienna.

The Havayolları Devlet İşletme İdaresi (General Directorate of Airline Operations Authority) was established in Turkey on May 20, 1933;98 the first civilian aviation transportation incentive began in the same year as Türk Hava Postaları (Turkish Air Posts), with a five airplane fleet.99 This fleet operated between Istanbul, Ankara, Eskişehir and Adana. The directorate was to establish airlines and airports, as well as air transportation; it became known as the Devlet Havayolları Umum Müdürlüğü (State Airlines General Directorate - DHY) on May 30, 1938 and was placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Works. The DHY was then transferred to the Ministry of Transportation on May 27, 1939. DHY was divided into two, Türk Hava Yolları (Turkish Airlines -THY)100 and Devlet Hava Meydanları İşletmesi (General Directorate of State Airports -DHMİ) on May 21, 1955. DHMİ became responsible for land and air traffic services and aviation-related information on February 26, 1956.

Atatürk (Yeşilköy) Airport

The Atatürk International Airport, the site where air transportation in Turkey began, is 50 meters above sea level. It has three runways, two being 3,000 meters in length and one being 2,600 meters. It has a total area of 11,650,000 m²; this is the largest airport in Turkey at the moment. After the Turkish committee attended the 1st Temporary Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation in Chicago in November 1944, under the leadership of Şükrü Koçak, an MP from Erzurum and the general manager of the Turkish Aeronautical Association at the time; Turkey not only signed the International Civil Aviation agreement in December 1944, in order to ensure the safety and development of international air travel and ensure the best international collaboration possible, it also became a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).101 In accordance with the International Civil Aviation Agreement,102 it was decided to establish an international airport in place of the airport in Yeşilköy. The Yeşilköy Airport was completed by two American companies, Westinghouse Electric Corp. and J. G. White Corp. On May 23, 1953, the airport was handed over to the Ministry of Transportation and was opened on August 1, 1953.103

At this time the Yeşilköy Airport covered an area 12,000 m², along with its hangars and radio transceiver facilities. The runways were able to support landing and departure of planes every ninety seconds. Because the runway was insufficient, the construction of a new runway, which began in 1968, was completed in 1972.104 The name of the airport was changed to the Atatürk International Airport on May 29, 1985.105 In order to better serve the developing air freight transportation industry, and the charter demand that appeared with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, as well as the increasing number of charter passengers, Terminal C was opened for service on December 7, 1995. In 2002, Terminal C was allocated for the cargo services of private companies.106

The Büyükdere Sea Airport

During the years when sea aviation was at its most active, an Italian aviation company, Aero Espresso Italiana (AEI), applied to offer air transportation services with its seaplanes. According to the agreement signed with the company in 1924, the Italians were given permission to build a sea airport and operate it for twenty years. The Büyükdere location on the straits was found to be suitable for a sea airport. AEI’s project was approved in December 31, 1925. After departing from Istanbul, the Aero Espresso planes would stop over in Athens and land in Brindisi, Italy. The second flight route was between Istanbul-Athens and Rhodes.107 Because of Mussolini’s expansionist policies towards the Mediterranean Sea, and because of the Balkan Pact, signed between the Balkan states and Turkey, and due to the already strained relationship between Italy and Turkey, Turkey cancelled the agreement and purchased the airport on February 21, 1936. The airport, handed over to the navy108 in 1937, is still being used by the Coast Guard Command and the Marmara and Straits (Bosphorus) Area Military Command.

Sabiha Gökçen Airport

This international civilian airport was named after Turkey’s first female pilot, Sabiha Gökçen (2 March, 1913-22 March, 2001). It is ninety-five meters above the sea level, and the runway is 3,000 meters long. Plans are underway to construct a second runway, 3,500 meters in length, which will be finished by 2015.109 The Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport was opened to air traffic on January 8, 2001, as part of the İleri Teknoloji Endüstri Parkı ve Havaalanı Projesi (Advanced Technology Industrial Park and Airport Project), developed by the Undersecretary for Defense Industries (SSM). In order to manage the airport, the Havaalanı İşletme ve Havacılık Endüstrileri A.Ş. (Airport Management and Aviation Industries Corporation) was established in 2000; 97 percent of the company’s shares were allocated to SSM. In order to build the facilities that are needed by SSM, help was sought from the private sector; and the bid for the “construction of Sabiha Gökçen Airport new International Flights Terminal building and additions within the framework of the Build-Operate-Transfer system” was won by the Limak İnşaat Sanayii ve Ticaret A.Ş., GMR Infrastructure Limited and Malaysia Airports Holdings BERHAD joint venture on July 7, 2007; the management of the current terminals, parking lot, ground services and fuel facilities, together with the construction area of the new facilities, was given to this group for a period of twenty years.110


The institutions and structures inherited from the Ottomans acted as an important foundation for the transportation systems in Istanbul in the Republican era; for some time intra-city public transportation was managed by this legacy. During the early years of the republic, air transportation was added to this inheritance. The constant increase in the city population, as well as in the number of automobiles and buses, brought to the fore the necessity for highways and roads; rail-based systems and sea transportation were seriously neglected as part of intra-city transportation. In fact, tram lines were even totally removed from the city in the 1960s. Trams, which formed the basis of the transportation system in other countries, began to be taken into consideration again by those governing Istanbul during the 1980s. Moreover, during the construction of and investment in land routes, unique historical and natural features of Istanbul were often damaged.

The fact that industrial development played a major role in the development of Istanbul in the period after the establishment of the Republic meant that there was a wave of migration from less developed areas and towns. There were many reasons for the transportation problems in the city. Among these were Constant and uncontrolled migration, the disparity between population and employment, the fact that transportation policies were heavily focused on land routes, the excessive number of automobiles, the disorganization of authority and the ambiguous nature of authority, the unplanned development of transportation, the lack of effective parking management, and deficiencies in public transportation. The problem of unplanned urbanization has also brought with it, rapid but unplanned solutions to transportation. For this reason, land route systems that did not require substantial infrastructure, such as buses, minibuses and dolmuş came to the fore.111

While almost all of the intra-city transportation in Istanbul took place via sea transport and rail systems during the first years of the Turkish Republic, this trend has been reversed today, and transport is heavily in favor of land routes. As a matter of fact, in 1935, while sea transportation made up for 27.61 percent of the total amount of public transportation and rail systems made up for 22.65 percent, the percentage of roads in Istanbul today is 87.30 percent, with rail systems being at 10.17 percent and sea transportation at 2.53. The share of privately owned vehicles within this 87.30 percent is 72.23 percent, while public vehicles make up for 15.07 percent. While the share of public enterprises in sea transportation is 1.08 percent, the share of private companies is 1.44 percent. All of the rail system transportation in Istanbul is managed by the public administration.

It is obvious that Istanbul will continue to be a vibrant city for years to come. Undoubtedly, this characteristic of Istanbul will affect its intra-city, international and domestic transportation options. However, at the same time it is vital that Istanbul’s historic and natural resources are protected to the utmost. Official authorities should pay great attention to these important points in order to create a better and more livable Istanbul.


1 İlhan Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım Tarihi Yazıları, İstanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 2010, p. 21.

2 Murat Koraltürk, Buharlı Vapurlardan Deniz Otobüslerine İstanbul’da Deniz Ulaşımı, Istanbul: Varlık Yayınları, 2010, p. 88.

3 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, p. 24. Also see: Bayram Camcı - Cezmi Zafer and Şükrü Yaman, Türk Deniz Ticareti ve Türkiye Denizcilik İşletmeleri Tarihçesi, Istanbul: Türkiye Denizcilik İşletmeleri, 1994, vol. 1, pp. 141-147.

4 Eser Tutel, Seyr-i Sefain Öncesi ve Sonrası, Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 1997.

5 Koraltürk, İstanbul’da Deniz Ulaşımı, p. 42.

6 Tutel, Seyr-i Sefain, pp. 142, 162.

7 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, p. 25.

8 Tutel, Seyr-i Sefain, p. 187.

9 Eser Tutel, “Şehir Hatları İşletmesi”, DBİst.A, vol. 7, 142-143.

10 Neşet Dereli, Karşıdan Karşıya, Istanbul: Komşu Yayınları, 2007, p. 121.

11 Tutel, Seyr-i Sefain, pp. 207-232.

12 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, p. 49.

13 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, pp. 53, 54.

14 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, pp. 62, 67.

15 Koraltürk, İstanbul’da Deniz Ulaşımı, pp. 88-93, 170.

16 Kazım Pıynar, “Vapurlar Bir Yılda 50 Milyon Yolcu Taşıdı”, Zaman, April 23, 2013.

17 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, p. 25.

18 Eser Tutel, “Şirket-i Hayriye”, DBİst.A, vol. 7, 181-184.

19 For more information on the mentioned administration, see: Ali Akyıldız, Haliç’te Seyrüsefer: Haliç Vapurları Şirketi, Istanbul: Türkiye İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları, 2007; Murat Koraltürk, Haliç’te Ulaşım ve Haliç Vapurları Şirketi, Istanbul: Degrade Ajans Reklamcılık ve Yayıncılık, 2005.

20 Eser Tutel, Gemiler, Süvariler, İskeleler, Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 1998, p. 186.

21 Binali Yıldırım, “İDO ve Hızlı Deniz Taşımacılığı,” II. Uluslararası Ulaşım Sempozyumu-Bildiriler, ed. İhsan Gök and Raif Yetim, Istanbul: İETT Genel Müdürlüğü, 1998, pp. 11-22.

22 Dereli, Karşıdan Karşıya, p. 125.

23 Tutel, Gemiler, Süvariler, İskeleler, p. 355.

24 Dereli, Karşıdan Karşıya, pp. 126-139.

25 “İDO, Artık Özel Sektörün”, Zaman, June 17, 2011.

26 Dereli, Karşıdan Karşıya, p. 132.

27 (27.04.2013).

28 (27.04.2013).

29 (27.04.2013).

30 Koraltürk, İstanbul’da Deniz Ulaşımı, pp. 187, 188.

31 Vahdettin Engin, Tünel’den Füniküler’e, Istanbul: Yapı Merkezi, 2007, p. 29.

32 Koraltürk, İstanbul’da Deniz Ulaşımı, p. 74.

33 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, pp. 29, 38, 39.

34 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, pp. 42, 45.

35 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, p. 51.

36 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, p. 54.

37 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, p. 59.

38 (06.05.2013).

39 (06.05.2013).

40 (06.05.2013).

41 The name given to a rail-based system in which the train wagons are pulled up or down a short and inclined route with a cable. (Engin, Tünel’den Füniküler’e, p. 175).

42 (06.05.2013).

43 “Geciken Başakşehir Metrosunun Sırrı Kirazlı’da”, Zaman, Mart 26, 2013.

44 (06.05.2013).

45 (06.05.2013).

46 (06.05.2013).

47 (06.05.2013).)

48 (06.05.2013).

49 (06.05.2013).


51 (04.05.2013).

52 (04.05.2013).

53 (04.05.2013).

54 “Asrın Projesi Marmaray 29 Ekim’de Açılıyor”, Zaman, April 2, 2013.

55 (03.11.2013)

56 (03.11.2013).

57 For more detailed information about Tünel, see: Engin, Tünel’den Füniküler’e; Eugene-Henri Gavand, İstanbul Metropoliten Demiryolu veya İstanbul Tüneli, tr. Vahdettin Engin, İstanbul: İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi İETT İşletmeleri Genel Müdürlüğü, 2011.

58 Engin, Tünel’den Füniküler’e, p. 129.

59 For detailed information, see: Vahdettin Engin, Rumeli Demiryolları, Istanbul: Eren Yayıncılık, 1993.

60 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, pp. 31, 39.

61 Koraltürk, İstanbul’da Deniz Ulaşımı, pp. 42, 43.

62 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, pp. 43, 51, 54.

63 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, pp. 59, 60, 63.

64 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, p. 71.

65 (14.05.2013).

66 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, p. 40

67 Vahdettin Engin, “İstanbul’da Şehiriçi Kara Ulaşımı: At Arabalarından Otomobile”, Osmanlı’da Ulaşım, ed. Vahdettin Engin, Ahmet Uçar and Osman Doğan, Istanbul: Çamlıca, 2012, pp. 99, 100.

68 Sedat Murat and Levent Şahin, Dünden Bugüne İstanbul’da Ulaşım, Istanbul: İstanbul Ticaret Odası, 2010, pp. 334, 341.

69 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, p. 40.

70 (14.05.2013).

71 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, pp. 60, 64.

72 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, p. 64.

73 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, p. 77.

74 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, pp. 39, 40.

75 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, pp. 51, 54.

76 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, p. 63.

77 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, pp. 76, 77.

78 “2012 İETT Faaliyet Raporu”, 15.05.2013,

79 “2012 İETT Faaliyet Raporu”, 15.05.2013,

80 Önder Kaya, Cumhuriyetin Vitrin Şehri: 3 Devirde İstanbul, Istanbul: Küre Yayınları, 2010, pp. 67-76; M. Rıfat Akbulut, “Henri Prost”, DBİst.A, vol. 6, 285-287.

81 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, pp. 46-48.

82 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, pp. 55-57.

83 For details on the Bosphorus Bridge, see: Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, pp. 84-109.

84 Tekeli, Kent İçi Ulaşım, pp. 66, 67.

85 (15.05.2013)

86 “İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi, İstanbul Metropoliten Alanı Kentsel Ulaşım Ana Planı (İUAP)”, 15.05.2013,

87 “Otogarlar”, DBİst.A, vol 6, 181, 182.

88 Türk Havacılık Tarihi (1912-1923), İstanbul: Hava Basımevi, 2012, vol. 1, pp. 18-29.

89 Türk Havacılık Tarihi, p. 37.

90 Türkiye’de Ticari Havacılık Tarihi, edited by Kıvanç Hürtürk, Istanbul: D Yayınları, 2009, p. 20. For the map prepared by Süreyya Bey see: Türk Havacılık Tarihi, pp. 112, 113; also see: Ö. Kürşat Karacagil, “Osmanlı Havacılık Teşkilatının Kuruluşuna Dair Nizamnameler”, Türk Kültürü İncelemeleri Dergisi, 2012, vol. 27, pp. 43-76.

91 Türkiye’de Ticari Havacılık, p. 20; Avni Okar, Türkiye’de Tayyarecilik, İstanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2004.

92 Stuart Kline, Türk Havacılık Kronolojisi, Istanbul: Havaş and Dönence Basım Yayın, 2002, p. 145; Zafer Orbay, Türkiye’de Havacılık ve Uçak Yapımı, Istanbul: Türk Bilim Tarihi Kurumu, 2009, p. 25.

93 Türkiye’de Ticari Havacılık, p. 20.

94 Türkiye’de Ticari Havacılık, pp. 95-103.

95 Kline, Türk Havacılık Kronolojisi, p. 140.

96 For detailed information, see: Türkiye’de Ticari Havacılık, pp. 86-95.

97 Kline, Türk Havacılık Kronolojisi, p. 155.

98 The first general manager of this institution is Mehmet Fesa (Evrensev) Bey, owner of the first Turkish army pilots license. (Kline, Türk Havacılık Kronolojisi, p. 193).

99 Murat and Şahin, Dünden Bugüne İstanbul’da Ulaşım, pp. 100, 101.

100 Kline, Türk Havacılık Kronolojisi, p. 332.

101 Civillian Aviation law no. 4749, Kline, Türk Havacılık Kronolojisi, pp. 286-290.

102 For the agreement text, see: (02.04.2013).

103 Türkiye’de Ticari Havacılık, p. 33

104 Ana Britannica, Istanbul: Ana Yayıncılık, 2004, II, 551.

105 Kline, Türk Havacılık Kronolojisi, p. 379.

106 Salih Sezen and Ahmet Apaydın, İstanbul’da Ulaşım, Istanbul: İETT İşletmeleri Genel Müdürlüğü, 2012, p. 238.

107 Uğur Cebeci, “Büyükdere’de Bir Havalimanı Vardı”, Hürriyet, January 6, 2008. ( (06.04.2013). Also see: İki Mavi: Türk Deniz Havacılık Tarihi, prepared by Gökhan Yağcıoğlu, Istanbul: Türk Deniz Kuvvetleri Komutanlığı, 2007.

108 Türkiye’de Ticari Havacılık Tarihi, pp. 48, 77-83; Kline, Türk Havacılık Kronolojisi, p. 217.

109 Yasin Kılıç, “Sabiha Gökçen’e Dev Uçaklar İçin 2. Pist Yapılacak”, Zaman, April 25, 2015.

110 (11.04.2013).

111 Murat and Şahin, Dünden Bugüne İstanbul’da Ulaşım, pp. 252-325.

This article was translated from Turkish version of History of Istanbul with some editions to be published in a digitalized form in 2019.

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