Metro Istanbul first inaugurated its urban rail systems in 1988 by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. The company, which continues its activities as a subsidiary of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM), operates the existing metro, tram, and funicular and cable car lines in Istanbul.
At Business Excellence, we had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Ozgur Soy, General Manager of Metro Istanbul. Mr. Soy mentioned the institution renders services in urban rail system operation with a length of 259.85 km throughout Istanbul.
It operates on 16 lines with a length of 183.15 km in the whole network, with a passenger capacity of more than 3 million every day. "We are the largest urban rail system operator in Turkey with 188 stations and a staff of more than 5 thousand people. We have 949 vehicles and own an area of over 1 million square meters", emphasized Mr.Soy.
An ongoing process
With the acceleration of rail system investments and the commissioning of new lines, Metro Istanbul is constantly increasing its quality. Even more so considering their ever-growing service network and passenger-oriented service approach. It's an institution that's continually improving transportation technologies and continuously investing in R&D and human resources.
"We also provide engineering and consultancy services for both Istanbul's future metro projects and public transportation projects in Turkey and abroad," stated Mr. Soy. "As Turkey's leading urban rail system operator, we aim to continue our work in line with the EFQM Model. We want to become one of the leading companies in Europe and the world", he went on.
Employee and customer-oriented policies
Furthermore, management continually carries out Customer Satisfaction Surveys and Mystery Customer Surveys to take quick actions to improve service quality. "We listen to our passengers and aim to improve our service quality according to the feedback we receive from them." And that's just what happened before the commissioning of the recent M7 Mecidiyekoy-Mahmutbey Metro Line. Due to suggestions by users, Metro Istanbul made up for certain shortcomings. Thus, it opened a line that is 100% suitable for disabled access.
"We keep the satisfaction of our employees as well as our passengers at the top of our priorities. Therefore, we expect our employees to take the initiative, not instructions", explained Mr. Soy. Gender equality is also at the forefront of the institution's philosophy. Even though rail systems are a male-dominated sector worldwide, Metro Istanbul increases the number of women working in the company day by day. "In 2020, the rate of women in our recruitment was 92%. In addition to our female train drivers, we recruited female Station Supervisors for the first time in the company's 33-year history".
A cultural approach to your daily commute
The company's vision is to position itself as one of the living spaces of the city. It is known that it is not easy to spare time for cultural and artistic activities in Istanbul, one of the most renowned metropolises of the world. "For this reason, we are turning our 188 stations located all over the city into cultural-art crossroads for Istanbulites. Thus, our passengers can visit the photography exhibition on their way home from work. Or, listen to the live performance of our metro musicians", mentioned Mr. Soy excitedly.
"We are developing our commercial areas as well as cultural and artistic areas. Metro means speed. For this reason, we are changing our infrastructure for commercial areas where passengers can quickly meet their needs in metro areas following the metro spirit".
Cutting edge tech
This institution knows the importance of information systems and the effect of acting with data on increasing efficiency. That's why they closely follow the latest technology and trends in the world. In doing so, they work together in 360-degree communication with stakeholders, contributing to the development of every supply chain link.
One good example of the latter is how vehicles on the Yenikapi-Airport-Kirazli-Halkali Metro Line will soon operate without a driver. Moreover, they will do so in a safer, faster, and more frequent range. This shows how the company is contributing to the development of vehicle procurement models of rail systems. It also supports the R&D projects of various rail system equipment and components.
To give an example of their R&D activities: "By developing journey planning software, we aimed to make automatic time planning of vehicles operating on the rail track with a certain tariff. When the project is completed, journey planning in rail systems in Turkey will work together with software for the first time", stated Mr. Soy.
Barrier free transportation and Covid-19
Metro Istanbul is also a company that supports barrier-free transportation. It has consequently planned a Mobile Interactive Assistant application to enable visually or hearing-impaired passengers to find directions on the rail systems and benefit from relevant information.
Like every other economic sector, Metro Istanbul also felt the effects of Covid-19. Some of the measures they took had to do with constant disinfection and cleaning processes. However, they also suspended the Night Metro services and temporarily closed some lines, which meant losing more than 90% of passengers.
Within the "Maintain Your Social Distance" framework, the company determined safe distances for passengers in all stations and vehicles and applied markings on relevant places. They also installed thermal cameras to monitor the body temperature of passengers at 20 stations with a high passenger density.
An environmentally sustainable operation with vision
Metro Istanbul is also an advocate for environmental sustainability. "Starting from the design of the lines at the project stage, we care that the equipment used in the lines and stations in electrical and mechanical designs is energy efficient. We ensure energy efficiency by optimizing ventilation or lighting systems in stations, escalators, and elevator selections. We additionally carry out many actions to ensure energy efficiency in our existing lines and stations and thus reduce our carbon emissions".
It's worth noting that by increasing the use of urban rail systems, the widespread use of road transport and individual automobiles in traffic diminishes. The latter helps to mitigate the city's greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. There's no doubt Metro Istanbul works hard to provide passengers with a high-quality travel experience.
The company's vision is to offer an intermodal approach. "We aim to become the backbone of public transportation by integrating all transportation modes in Istanbul. And the only way of achieving this is by providing sustainable, innovative, technological and environmentally friendly transportation solutions", established Mr. Soy.