Should I Get the New Istanbul Kart or Stick With Akbil?

Image of the newly introduced Istanbul Card (Istanbul Kart)

by Istanbul Trails

in City Trip, Expat Stay, My Tips & Tricks, Transportation

The brand new Istanbul Card (İstanbul Kart) was proudly introduced in the spring of 2009 by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality as a card with which you will be able to pay for all your Istanbul transportation, cultural and entertainment activities. In a first phase, the İstanbul Kart will replace the currently used akbil as a pre-paid public transportation pass. However, don’t rush to go get such a card, since the implementation doesn’t go as smooth as expected.

What Is the Istanbul Card?

The İstanbul Kart is a RFID (Radio-frequency identification) card which fits perfectly in your wallet since it has the dimensions of a regular credit card. It is a pre-paid and rechargeable card, which can be used to cover fares and entrance fees. At first it will enable you to cover any kind of transportation fees, including bus, tram, metro, funicular, ferry and sea-bus fares – yes, even your taxi and parking expenses.

You can also look at the İstanbul Kart as an electronic ticket. In the future the card will also pay for the entrance fees of movie theaters, cultural venues and/or museums. The latter is of course unnecessary is you have a Müzekart.

How Does the Istanbul Card Work?

Istanbul Kart with the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

Istanbul Kart with the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

You obtain an Istanbul Card (see below) and make sure there is enough money on it. Remember, it’s a pre-paid card, not a credit card. When you have to pay a fee of some kind for your transportation or leisure activities, you place it in the proximity of a fare point, and the amount due is automatically deducted from your card. In ideal circumstances you don’t even have to take the card out of your wallet. And for transportation purposes you will pay the same reduced rate as you currently do with your akbil.

Where Can I Get an Istanbul Card?

Currently you can only obtain an Istanbul Card at the IETT Akbil/Ticket sales point in Mecidiyeköy. No clue where that is? No need to worry! Just keep on reading and I’ll explain why.

Why You Should Keep Your Akbil!

Although not new, the idea to have one card to pay for the majority of your Istanbul transportation, cultural or leisure expenses is brilliant. However, the wide-spread implementation of the technology to deduct the fees due automatically has proven to be a painfully slow process. The municpality implements it route by route. With hundreds of public transportation lines throughout the city of Istanbul, this may take a while.

So for the time being, I strongly suggest you to stick or obtain an akbil to cover your public transportation fares and leave the Istanbul Card for what it is until all transportation means and lines are equipped to handle it.

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