Drivers turning dial to a traffic radio amid road congestion
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
‘The number of volunteer reporters’ calling us has increased 100 percent since the latest traffic crisis in the city,’ says the founder of Radyo Trafik, Cezayir Doğan (R).Turkey’s first “traffic radio” has doubled its number of listeners in the past week after congestion on Istanbul’s roads caused by bridge repair began exasperating drivers, according to the founder of the station, Radyo Trafik.
“I talked non-stop for eight hours last week. The number of ‘volunteer reporters’ who are calling us to inform us about road conditions has increased 100 percent since the latest traffic crisis in the city,” Cezayir Doğan said.
“We are testing the volunteer reporters before taking them as a reference. The success of this radio is based on its interactive system. Listeners are also the broadcasters here actually,” said Zeynep Sünger, the corporate affairs manager for Saran Holding, which operates Radyo Trafik.
Apart from “volunteer reporters,” Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbaş has called the station live to “warmly thank” the staff for its assistance in attempting to solve the city’s increasing traffic problems, Doğan said.
Istanbul residents were forced to endure major traffic chaos on the morning of June 18 after the Fatih Sultan Mehmet (FSM) Bridge over the Bosphorus and the Haliç Bridge over the Golden Horn were partially closed for repair work for three months.
While heading to Traffic Radio’s studio in Sarıyer, one of the Hürriyet Daily News’ drivers, Ferhat Metin, turned on 104.2 FM to learn about the current traffic hotspots.
“This radio has saved my life,” he said, speaking out of decades’ experience on roads. “Of course it has eased my job, I am zigzagging all over Istanbul all day long and thanks to ‘volunteer reporters,’ I can easily look ahead at the road conditions at my destination.”
Sünger said a navigation system was not enough to help drivers understand the real situation on the roads.
“Taxi drivers call us and say, ‘You have a share of every Turkish Lira we earn.’ This means a lot for us,” Doğan said.
Although there are 15 people employed at the two-year-old station, only two of them are women, Doğan said.
“Turkish men do not trust women in traffic, and they do not trust them on traffic radio either,” he said.
A place for confessions
The station has also provided a forum for people to admit to their faults in traffic, Doğan said.
“There was a major traffic accident on the Trans European Motorway [TEM] on Oct. 21 ; nine people were killed there, and a man called us on the evening of the accident and, with a tearful voice, shared his confession,” Doğan said, noting that the man had said he occupied an emergency lane, blocking the road of ambulances.
The penitent man begged others not to block such lanes, Doğan said, adding that a campaign was subsequently kicked off, calling on drivers to not occupy the emergency lane but instead aid emergency responders. Traffic Radio will soon open branches in Ankara and İzmir.
Galata Bridge to open July 10
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality will open the Old Galata Bridge to use beginning July 10 to ease traffic in the area of the bridge.
The bridge crosses the Golden Horn, with abutments in Balat on the shore at Ayvansaray on one side and in Hasköy on the other. The bridge has been under construction, and is being tested by experts before it opens. The Old Galata Bridge was originally built by Machinebau Ausburg Nürnberg in 1912, and continued to connect the two sides of the Golden Horn for 80 years, becoming one of the symbolic structures of Istanbul.