Nostalgic buses back on Istanbul roads in 2015
ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
AA PhotoBussing, Leyland and Renault-Scemia – all the witnesses to Istanbul’s 20th century evolution from a small city to a metropolis – have announced their return.
Aiming to draw both residents of Istanbul and international travelers, Istanbul Electric Tram and Tunnel Company (IETT) has replicated the city’s veteran buses, which will come into operation in 2015.
“We have reproduced three buses in accordance with their original style and color,” said Kazim Taylan Sever, IETT vehicle maintenance manager.
Stating that they had reproduced the Leyland, Bussing and Renault-Scemia buses in eight months with the help of a team of 85 people, Sever added: “After Tosun, Turkey’s first domestically manufactured trolleybus, these three buses will hit Istanbul’s roads for the first time in decades.”
“Tosun has drawn great attention. I am sure those buses will attract more,” Sever added.
Istanbul has nearly a century of history with these buses. According to the IETT, the first buses were purchased from France and arrived in Istanbul in 1926, just three years after the Turkish War of Independence. The first four buses were Renault-Scemia and began by assisting the Tramway Company, which had been in operation in Istanbul since 1871.
“Renault-Scemia is one of the three replicated buses. Having a seating capacity of 28 passengers, Renault-Scemia-labeled buses operated in Istanbul until 1942,” said Sever.
The first four Renault-Scemia buses first serviced hilly districts in Istanbul where it was harder for tramways to reach, the IETT said.
One of four buses began servicing the Beyazit-Taksim route in 1927 and the other three later began to operate on Beyazıt-Bakırcılar-Fuatpaşa-Mercan-Fincancılar-Sultanhamam-Eski Postane-Eminönü route which later extended to Karaköy.
The second of these nostalgic buses is the Bussing-labeled German fleet.
“Bussing buses were purchased from Germany in 1951 and 1952. Approximately 100 Bussing buses were selected for easy-going traveling in Istanbul’s narrow streets, as they were nine-meters long,” Sever said.
Having served for 30 years on Istanbul roads, Bussing buses had a seating capacity of more than 50 passengers – 25 sitting and 26 standing – for the city’s growing population.
In 1968, approximately 300 Leyland-marked buses were manufactured specially for Turkey: “The British Leyland buses, well-known for their longevity and safety, provided comfortable bus rides to Istanbul residents until 1992,” Sever said.
The change of pace in Turkey’s largest city has often dictated transport policy.
“You cannot compare the population of those times with today. It was just over 2 million people back then, but now it exceeds 15 million” says 72-year-old Istanbul resident Zarife Güldemir.
Born and raised in Istanbul’s Üsküdar district on the Asian side of Istanbul, Güldemir is one of the passengers who rode the Bussing and Leyland vehicles.
Güldemir said she clearly remembers the classic vehicles: “When we wanted to walk in Taksim or Beyazıt, we used to use those buses. The city was at peace and the small number of buses and the tramway were enough for Istanbul’s residents in the 70s.”
She added: “But now, even though we are surrounded by a transportation network, it is still not enough to solve Istanbul’s traffic problems. The nostalgic buses, however, may remind me of the peaceful days of Istanbul.”
Istanbul is the second worst European city after Moscow in terms of traffic congestion, according to data from 2012 from European navigation systems company TomTom.
According to IETT figures, Istanbul offers public transportation services to more than 3.5 million passengers every day. Around 1 million people are carried via nine different urban railway lines.
Serving more than 14 million inhabitants, public transport in Istanbul makes up 30 percent of the city’s total daily transportation.
“As the IETT, we just wanted to revive the nostalgic days of Istanbul by manufacturing these buses” says Sever, indicating that these buses alone cannot solve the city’s traffic problem.
Pointing out that the buses will play nostalgic songs to passengers during their journeys, Sever adds, “Those who travel by these buses will take a trip down memory lane.”
“These buses will give a magic touch to Istanbul’s traffic,” she says.