Travelers visiting Istanbul this winter will pay extra to get around on public transportation. The transit authority has just put a fare hike in effect on the trams, metro, bus, and ferry lines, the first in a year and a half.
A single-leg token (jeton) will now cost 1.75 TL (about ($1.25), up from 1.50, but Akbil (smart ticket) carriers will pay 1.65 TL and .85 TL for transfers. Ferries between the Asian and European sides or along the Golden Horn will cost 1.75 TL, using a token or Akbil.
Read on for more info on the Akbil and how to use mass transit to get to Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.An Akbil (smart ticket) is a small electronic button-like device that can be loaded with money at any major transit station or tram stop, and provides discounted transfers within an hour and a half of your first ride. The Akbil can be shared amongst multiple people, though only the discount will only apply to one passenger.Travelers can purchase a new Akbil with a 6 TL refundable deposit at major transit centers, though Taksim Square is the most reliable place to purchase one. Look for the booth that says “Akbil Satış Noktası” (Akbil sales point) rather than newsstands which may only allow recharges). There’s been talk of phasing out the Akbil in favor of the new RFID Istanbulkart but instituting the card into the system has caused delays and the card can’t currently be purchased.
While Istanbul’s transit system is not nearly as extensive or convenient as any many other European cities, most tourists will at least use the handy tram line during their travels, which connects many popular areas from Taksim Square (via an additional transfer from Kabatas on the funicular train) to the Old City sights including the Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar. It is also possible to take public transit to the Ataturk airport if you have time to spare: a tram ride to the end of the line at Zeytinburnu connects with a metro line to the airport and takes a little over an hour (note: you can also transfer at Aksaray but it involves walking a few blocks, difficult with luggage).
A few additional kurus (cents) for a ride may not mean a lot to travelers, but with the dollar down 11 percent in the last 5 months, you’ll want to save your lira where you can.