The voting website for Istanbul's new tram design. Screenshot: Istanbul Ulaşım A.Ş.
Sigh. Just when I was feeling optimistic about the latest developments with Istanbul's public transportation system, the municipality goes and announces that it's running an online poll to let the public choose which vehicle design the city will produce for its new tram fleet. Sounds cool, right? It would be... if the two choices weren't so darn ugly.I probably would have just skimmed over the news about the poll if local blogger Mavi Boncuk hadn't written a two-part post on the plan, bemoaning the lack of an option "to say no and can both of these clunkers."
Domestically Produced Tram Cars
While I'm personally fairly fond of Istanbul's current blue-white-and-gray tram cars, I can understand why the city would want to start producing its own rather than always having to buy vehicles from other countries as its system expands. And of course it's a great idea to let people have a say in what will be a big part of many commuters' lives. But in addition to the decidedly unsleek appearance of the two new designs -- something that's particularly sad to see since the transportation authority has supposedly been working on them for 14 years -- the "choice" offered to residents isn't much of one.
Images and Technical Details
The İstanbul Tramvayını Seçiyor (Choosing Istanbul's Tram) website offers technical stats on the two tram designs, and some images of each, that are supposed to help people make their decision. The images, though, are only of the exterior of each tram -- probably the least important factor to commuters. What do the seats look like? How are they configured? How wide do the doors open? What does the view out the windows look like? We can't tell.
Likewise, the two trams appear identical on the technical details most people would care about -- the passenger capacity (40 seated; 245 standing), the maximum speed (80 km/h) -- and even things most riders don't think about, like motor strength (120 kW, in case you were wondering). So what's the choice? Unfortunately, this seems to be another case where public participation is touted for its own sake, to make people feel like they have a voice, rather than letting them weigh in on anything that matters.
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