Public transport use in Istanbul declines by half due to COVID-19
According to data obtained from the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the number of people using buses, metrobuses, trains, metros, trams and ferries were around 1.1 billion in the first half of 2019, a time when COVID-19 did not exist. This figure nosedived to 562 million in the same period of 2021.
“People stayed away from public transport due to the fear of the pandemic. Some 350,000 people resorted to private cars in a day over social distancing concerns,” Mustafa Ilıcalı, a professor from Istanbul Commerce University told state-run Anadolu Agency.
On a monthly basis, January was the month when the decline emerged the most. In January 2020, two months before the first coronavirus case was announced, the number of people using public transport was more than 198 million. The number was some 77 million, a 61 percent of decrease, this past January.
Bus trips faced a 62 percent decline in two years, the numbers showed. According to data, some 525 million people rode buses in the first six months of 2019. The number dropped by 38 percent to some 332 million in the first half of 2020 and to some 261 million in the same period of 2021 with a further 18 percent decline.
There were some 338 million metro users in the first half of 2019. The number fell nearly by half to 170 million in the same period this year.
The data is nearly the same among metrobus users. The number was 146 million in the first half of 2019. Now it is 77 million.
One of the harshest falls was seen in marine transport, with a 62 percent nosedive. The number of people using the ferries in the metropolis was some 19 million in 2019’s first half. Some 7 million preferred marine transportation in this year’s half.
“Normally, some 8 million commuters were using public transportation daily,” Ilıcalı said, adding, “Now the number is around 900,000.”
People starting using their own vehicles, and those who do not have one rented, he noted.
“When you look inside the cars, you will see one or two people in 80 or 90 percent of the cars,” he stressed.
“An extra 350,000 vehicles have been added to the city’s already-full traffic due to the pandemic.”