Buses got a boost when Obama visited Istanbul. Photo by yellow book ltd via Flickr.
Extraordinary circumstances can bring out the best in people--and in transportation systems. After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area, cutting off access to bridges and freeways, commuters rediscovered the ferry and subway--and kept riding them even after the roads were repaired. President Barack Obama's trip to Turkey may prove to have been a similar turning point for Istanbul.Dire predictions of traffic nightmares during Obama's two-day visit this week went unfulfilled, reports Today's Zaman, as city residents "abandon[ed] private vehicles for public transportation in large numbers to avoid getting stuck in traffic--which ended up being prevented altogether."
Previous appearances by former U.S. presidents, as well as separate visits just last year by Queen Elizabeth and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, nearly brought the city to a standstill. But whether due to past experience, better planning, or more information available about the city's many transit alternatives, things were different this time around. Land transportation methods, which include city buses, trams, subways, trains, and Metrobus lines, saw a 40 percent jump in ridership, while Istanbul's ferries--a scenic and exceedingly civilized way to travel anytime--were filled to capacity during the Obama visit.
Other factors, of course, may have come into play. The service buses from my workplace left early, anticipating delays, and some office employees were given the opportunity to take the days off or work from home. And only time will tell if people will keep riding transit now that the hoopla has passed or just hop back into their cars. Via: "İstanbulites use public transport to make way for Obama convoy," Today's Zaman
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