World Bulletin / News Desk
İstanbullites hailed an important moment in the city's history on Friday as they witnessed the inauguration of the country's longest metro line -- between Kadıköy and Kartal -- for which the municipality has spent $1.6 billion over the past four years.
The ceremony organized for the first trip between the two major districts on the province's Asian side was attended by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Minister of Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communication Binali Yıldırım and İstanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu as well as the metropolitan city's mayor, Kadir Topbaş.
The line has 14 stops other than Kadıköy and Kartal on the 22-kilometer-long track and will see 1.5 million passengers transported per day when used to its full capacity. A one way trip will take 32 minutes between Kadıköy and Kartal. This trip would normally take a bus at least one hour under the best traffic conditions, something which most İstanbullites would consider a luxury, particularly on weekdays. The full list of stops on the line includes Kadıköy, Ayrılıkçeşme, Acıbadem, Ünalan, Göztepe, Yenisahra, Kozyatağı, Bostancı, Küçükyalı, Maltepe, Huzurevi, Gülsuyu, Esenkent, Hastane/Adliye, Soğanlık and Kartal.
Passengers can travel for a 50 percent discounted fare until Oct. 29, the 89th anniversary of the proclamation of the republican regime in Turkey, also celebrated as Republic Day in the country. This is equal to TL 0.8 for adults and TL 0.6 for students.
The line will be extended to a total length of 26.5 kilometers with the addition of a second track between Pendik and Kaynarca on the Asian side by the end of this year. The municipality will spend another $400 million for the completion of this second track.
The trans-Bosporus Marmaray tunnel, which will provide a link between the high-speed Halkalı to Bulgaria line and the high-speed rail between İstanbul and Ankara when it is completed next year, will also be connected to the metro network within Turkey's most populous province. This will facilitate intercontinental travel for İstanbullites.
The İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality aims to establish a 230-kilometer-long railway network for the province and help carry 5 million passengers per day by 2014, when the next local elections are due. Topbaş has recently announced his bid for another term -- which will be his third should he win the 2014 elections-- in office. The mayor appears to be building his election campaign on improved transportation means for residents of the province, which already has a name for rampant traffic congestion.
Friday's ceremony was held near the Kabataş seaport in Kadıköy, where hundreds of İstanbullites gathered to witness the first car departing from the stop in the district, driven by by Erdoğan, who was accompanied by his wife and Topbaş.
Speaking to private news channel Kanal 24 about the project, Hitay Güner from the Turkish Traffic Safety Association said the Kadıköy-Kartal metro line is certainly not the cure for all traffic issues in İstanbul, but will be an important step to building a city where transportation is no longer a serious problem.
Other than the Kadıköy-Kartal line, İstanbullites enjoy intra-city underground travel on a 19.6-kilometer-long track between Aksaray and the İstanbul Atatürk Airport and a 16.5-kilometer-long track between Şişhane and Hacıosman on the European side of the province. Another 15.9-kilometer-long metro line between Başakşehir and Kirazlı Olimpiyatköy will soon become operational as well.