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Mass anger grows in Istanbul against mayor over metro issues

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A problem that started on the Üsküdar-Samandıra Metro Line two days ago has yet to be resolved over 50 hours later, leading to congestion and frustration as citizens attempt to commute to work in the morning.

Metro Istanbul initially described the issue as a “technical malfunction,” later categorizing it as “mandatory maintenance work,” and yesterday announced it was due to the “contact between two passenger-less trains used for educational purposes outside of operating hours.”

As a result of the problem, services are being continued with transfers at Altunizade Station.

Upon passing through the turnstiles from Altunize to the metro line, citizens are warned to “go in the opposite direction of your intended destination.”

Once on the platform level, staff members waiting in front of directional signs use megaphones to guide citizens in their correct direction.

With the longer intervals between trains, congestion at the station continues to worsen, and some citizens expressed concern about being late for work.

One citizen waiting for the metro expressed dissatisfaction, saying: “Isn’t anyone going to explain? Then shut down these metros. How can something like this happen? Isn’t this against human rights? We can’t go home or to work. Wasn’t everything supposed to be fine? This is unacceptable.” Other citizens around also express their frustration.

The issue is being announced as “mandatory maintenance work” from the central system at the station. Before the malfunction, trains were running every four minutes during peak hours from Üsküdar to Samandıra, but the 15-minute lapses left almost no space for movement at the overcrowded station.

Citizens who do not wish to wait for the metro are informed that they can take free IETT buses departing from exit No. 6 to go toward Üsküdar.

At the bus stop, buses labeled “staffed” are circulating at regular intervals, providing shuttle service to Üsküdar.

The ongoing transportation issues in Istanbul have sparked major concerns among residents, highlighting critical challenges in the city’s public transport system.

On one hand, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s (IBB) Public Transportation Service (IETT) has been under fire due to a series of incidents, ranging from bus breakdowns to tramway malfunctions, significantly impacting daily commuting from April 16 to 19.

These problems, including accidents such as an IETT bus colliding with a pedestrian overpass in Yenikapı and another bus rear-ending at a stop in Fatih, have raised questions about the efficiency and safety of public transport operations.

Moreover, disruptions on key routes like the Metrobus line and the Kabataş-Bağcılar Tram Line have led to passenger inconveniences, delays and overcrowding at stations, illustrating the pressing need for systematic improvements.

AK Party Istanbul Provincial Chairperson Osman Nuri Kabaktepe criticized the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) for the ongoing disruption on the M5 Uskudar-Samandira Metro Line. Kabaktepe pointed out the inconsistency in IBB’s statements regarding the issue, emphasizing that the problem is a physical accident, not a technical fault.

He also emphasized that the current situation on the metro line, characterized by delays and disruptions, requires honest and transparent communication from IBB officials rather than misleading statements.

In light of these issues, the role of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu, who represents the main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), becomes crucial in addressing public concerns and implementing effective measures to enhance transportation services.

The transportation inventory’s challenges, as outlined by Muhammet Kaynar, a member of the IBB, indicate significant gaps in maintenance, fleet management and service quality. For instance, between 2013 and 2017, 2,250 buses were purchased, averaging 275 buses per year. However, between 2019 and 2023, only 344 buses were purchased, a stark decrease per year. Moreover, there were 823,915 fault records created in wheeled vehicles between 2019 and 2023, with a staggering 756,013 complaints received in 2023 alone.

These numbers reveal broader structural issues in Istanbul’s public transportation infrastructure that require urgent attention and strategic planning for sustainable solutions.

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