BRT in Istanbul: Mercedes-Benz CapaCity highly effective and popular as a comfortable rapid transit bus with a high capacity
22.08.2009 - 00:00

German version
BRT in Istanbul: Mercedes-Benz CapaCity highly effective and popular as a comfortable rapid transit bus with a high capacity
  • 250 CapaCity highly successful as a Metrobus for Istanbul
  • 1 million passengers daily
  • High speed and short turnaround
  • Comfortable travel at pleasant temperatures
  • CapaCity: highly manoeuvrable and easy to steer
  • Distinctive design – environmentally friendly technology
  • Urban public transport with a long tradition – IETT as the central organisation
  • BRT systems increasingly popular – independent advice from a team of experts
  • CapaCity and Citaro – two models working hand in hand
  • Metrobus Istanbul – facts and figures

The Mercedes-Benz CapaCity impressively demonstrates the attractiveness and cost-effectiveness of the bus as a transport system. As a high-capacity vehicle not restricted to on-rail operation, it combines the advantages of a bus, i.e. great flexibility and high cost-effectiveness, with attributes of a tram system such as a high passenger capacity.

250 CapaCity highly successful as a Metrobus for Istanbul

With 250 CapaCity ordered and delivered for operation in Istanbul, this XXL bus from Mercedes-Benz has proved its worth in every respect. The extra-long (19.5 m) articulated buses cover the new Metrobus route on a non-stop basis, and the fleet is augmented with Citaro articulated buses. During the first quarter of 2009 all the 100 CapaCity buses ordered at the end of 2008 were delivered to the transport operator, Istanbul Elektrik Tramvay ve Tünel (IETT). The first section of the new Metrobus route was taken into service in September 2007. This BRT route originally ran between the suburb of Avcilar in north-western Istanbul and Topkapi in the city centre, but was extended in 2008 to include a Topkapi – Zincirlikuyu connection by virtue of high customer acceptance. This extension increased the original route length of 18.3 kilometres to 29 kilometres. In March 2009 the third section between Europe and Asia became operational, extending the total route to 40.6 km. The buses travel in their own bus lanes.

At the beginning of this year the Metrobus project by the Istanbul city authorities was the recipient of a Sustainable Transport Award in Washington D.C. This award is given to projects that reduce greenhouse gases and improve the quality of life in the inner-city areas of major cities worldwide.

750,000 passengers daily – rising to 1 million after route extension

The high expectations of the planners for this modern BRT system (Bus Rapid Transit) have rapidly proved justified, as around 750,000 passengers use the buses daily on the 40.6 km long route. This has noticeably relieved congestion on the peripheral motorways and feeder roads into Istanbul, for with 12.5 million inhabitants (Istanbul city), the number of commuters is extremely high. The resulting daily commuter traffic leads to long tailbacks, delays and severe atmos­pheric pollution. Travelling by CapaCity is a quite different matter: environ­mentally friendly, comfortable and with no congestion.

High speed and fast turnaround

The smooth operation of the system is considerably assisted by fast turnaround times of up to 30 seconds (!) at peak times, as well as high travelling speeds – around 40 km/h including stops. Nobody needs to wait for long: compared to earlier times with a conventional regular bus service, the daily journey time has been reduced from 1.5 hours to just 40 minutes. This brisk procedure was achieved by specifically designing the route as a separate bus lane without crossing traffic. The six-lane E5 highway leading into Istanbul from the west was designed with a wide central reservation separating the two traffic flows. This provided the ideal facilities for the two parallel bus lanes of the new Metrobus service. The bus stops positioned in the centre can only be accessed via pedestrian walkways, which means that changing to the Metrobus from other regular services or reaching a bus stop from the car parks is completely safe and convenient. While passengers getting out are able to leave the CapaCity quickly via the four double doors, incoming passengers pass through a modern service area with electronic ticketing. The system was already introduced by the transport operator IETT under the name Akbill in 1995, and gained rapid public acceptance. Each stop also has a counter or cash-desk for passengers paying in cash. The tickets and prices are valid for the entire urban public transport system of Istanbul – including the ferries that cross the Bosporus.

Mercedes-Benz CapaCity: BRT System in Istanbul

Comfortable travel at pleasant temperatures

The passengers not only benefit from the well-organised operation of the Metrobus service, but also from the comfort of the CapaCity buses: wide double doors, no-step entry and exiting, platforms for standing passengers with plenty of space for wheelchair users and pushchairs. The friendly atmosphere in the bright, spacious passenger compartment is enhanced even further by the attractive colour scheme of the ceiling, side walls, seating and flooring. The effective climate control of the CapaCity has been particularly well received, as air conditioning is by no means a standard feature in the enormous fleets that operate in the wide transport network of the Turkish metropolis. It is not only the many passengers, but also the CapaCity drivers who enjoy the pleasant interior temperatures. These are all experienced professionals who have already absolved countless bus kilometres in the busy traffic in and around Istanbul. They know what it means to be on the road with a fully occupied regular service bus in the burning heat of mid-summer. Driving a CapaCity is therefore already a very desirable assignment because of the air conditioned cockpit. Moreover, the drivers are already familiar with the user-friendly arrangement of the controls, as the 494 Mercedes-Benz Citaro city buses that ushered in the low-floor era in Istanbul in 2005 also have an instrument panel according to the VDV standard, and substantially the same cockpit functions.

Mercedes-Benz CapaCity: BRT System in Istanbul

CapaCity: highly manoeuvrable and easy to steer

The outstanding handling of the 19.54 m long CapaCity is one of its major advantages. As it needs only one articulation joint, slow manoeuvring and rever­sing present no problems. In the latter case, the driver is greatly assisted by the "Omnicam" installed above the rear window, whose wide-angle lens shows him the situation to the rear on a monitor in the cockpit. All in all, the CapaCity offers considerable practical advantages over other bus solutions with two articulations or a bus trailer. Its turning circle of only 22.85 metres also corresponds exactly to that of the shorter Citaro articulated combination (18 m). This was made possible thanks to the well-proven modular design of the Citaro series, which was also the basis for the development of the CapaCity. This design is simple in principle: instead of having only a single axle at the rear, the Citaro G was extended by adding the rear-end module of the 15-metre Citaro L solo bus. The additional, fourth axle – an electrohydraulically controlled trailing axle – is the reason for the impressive manoeuvrability of the longest Mercedes bus. At the same time the axle loads are optimally distributed, which ensures even more safety in view of the permissible gross vehicle weight of 32 tonnes, the payload of 13 tonnes and the enormous passenger capacity of 193 (Citaro articulated bus: 150 passengers).

The drivers in Istanbul experience the good driving characteristics of the CapaCity on a daily basis. Even though there are no bends on most of the route, they still need to execute turns at each terminus or cross the city to fleet head­quarters. Efficient braking is also particularly important, as the CapaCity buses have a clear road and cover the distances between bus stops at higher speeds than are otherwise possible in urban transport. Safety reserves and rapid respon­ses are ensured by the electronic braking system EBS, which includes ABS, ASR and disc brakes all-round and is standard equipment for the CapaCity. There are markings on the road surface to ensure that the buses of the Metrobus service are always braked gently and in good time. Counting down from the prescribed cruising speed (70 km/h) these markings show the optimum speed before a precisely defined stopping point is reached.

Distinctive design – environmentally friendly technology

The contrasts in the Istanbul urban public transport system fully reflect the vibrancy of this multicultural city, ranging from often quite dated Dolmuş minibuses and more or less up-to-date regular service buses right up to the innovative BRT system with CapaCity articulated buses. First presented as a prototype in 2005, this large-capacity variant from Mercedes-Benz impresses with its unmistakable design, whose appearance suggests a successful synthesis between a bus and a rail vehicle. This effect has above all been achieved with very deep-drawn window areas and a bus body that appears higher than it is, with elegantly superimposed side panels that conceal the roof-mounted technolo­gy. The result is an imposing vehicle that enjoys great public affection in Istanbul. Another very important factor for the transport operator IETT is the modern, tried-and-tested drive ­technology of the CapaCity, with the environ­mentally friendly OM 457 hLA six-cylinder in-line engine installed in the rear. The 12-litre engines used in Istanbul meet the Euro 4/5 emission standard and are equipped with economical BlueTec diesel technology. Realising a modern urban public transport system with low-emission drive systems on attractive terms – as in the case of the new Metrobus service with its 250 CapaCity buses – meets the need to reduce the density of private traffic in the inner city area. Accordingly the plans by the Istanbul city authorities and IETT are increasingly taking effect, as the large, and growing, number of paying passengers amply demonstrates. Many of these are already leaving their cars at home, and not always for reasons of environmental protection: fuel prices in Turkey are higher than in most western European countries, while a Metrobus ticket costs only 1.30 TL (approx. 85 Cents). Travelling into the city from the outskirts by one of the world’s most up-to-date bus systems is also faster and more comfortable than by car.

Mercedes-Benz CapaCity: BRT System in Istanbul

Urban public transport with a long tradition – IETT as the central organisation

Istanbul has already had modern urban public transport with regular service vehicles for 138 years. In 1871 one of the world’s first horse-drawn bus services was introduced. Just four years later this was joined by another urban service that remains a technical highlight to this day, namely the 574 m long "Tünel" line, an underground funicular railway constructed in the northern suburb beyond the Golden Horn. More than 5 million passengers per year use this only 600 m long stretch, which covers an altitude difference of 61.55 m between the base station (Karaköy) and Tünel. 1930 saw the introduction of the first electric tramway, and the increasing use of buses. The transport operator IETT (Istanbul Elektrik Tünel Tramvay) was formed in 1939 following the merger between the now nationalised electricity and transport companies. The organization now operates the subway, tram, urban railway and bus systems. IETT employs 8189 personnel and uses 2831 buses on 534 routes. Since 1997 this Istanbul transport operator has purchased its buses almost exclusively from Mercedes-Benz, with ease of maintenance, comfort and economy as consistently convincing arguments. It is not by chance that Mercedes-Benz is also the market leader in Turkey in the regular service bus and touring coach segment (> 8 t perm. GVW). 1076 new vehicles were registered in 2007, and Mercedes-Benz Türk accounted for 686 of these (63.8 %).

BRT systems increasingly popular – independent advice from a team of experts

Increasing population figures and a high demand for mobility require worldwide solutions that are reliable, cost-effective and flexible. At the same time it is vital to prevent the imminent threat of total gridlock in many cities by taking environ­mentally friendly measures. Modern "Busway" or "Bus Rapid Transit" (BRT) systems – as they are internationally known – have proved successful in many parts of the world. Their decisive advantage over rail-based transport systems is that an effective mobility concept can be realised with a comparatively modest investment just about anywhere where there are roads. Since these routes are independent from a rail system, they can also be adapted with relatively low cost and effort. In terms of their environmental balance, modern buses are anyway ahead of the field compared to all other personal transport systems.

Mercedes-Benz Buses has its own team of experts to advise city authorities and transport operators when planning BRT systems. It is based in Stuttgart, and consists of traffic planners, traffic researchers and strategists who concern them­selves with solving traffic-related problems on a national and international level. This team operates independently, and is active purely on a consultative basis.

There are further, impressive examples of well-run BRT systems apart from Istanbul, among them Amsterdam (Netherlands), Bogota (Columbia), Mexico City or Nantes (France). All of them successfully employ buses – predominantly articulated buses – from Mercedes-Benz. Other projects are planned in South Africa, where urban public transport in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria is to be optimized with modern bus systems in preparation for the 2010 Football World Cup. Here too, the BRT experts from Daimler Buses are involved as consultants.

Mercedes-Benz CapaCity: BRT System in Istanbul

CapaCity and Citaro – two models working hand in hand

More than 260 units of the CapaCity model have already been sold. In addition to Istanbul, these extra-long articulated buses are in service in Stuttgart, Tübingen and Osnabrück. The German operators have however preferred to give a standar­dized appearance to their fleets, and opted for the capacity-related advantages of this XXL bus equipped with the current Citaro bus body. This also works well the other way round: the Citaro articulated buses for the BusWay system in Nantes were ordered with an "outfit" whose exclusive design comes very close to the CapaCity. Solutions such as this once again demonstrate the flexibility made possible by the modular concept of the Citaro series.

Metrobus Istanbul – facts and figures

  1. The Metrobus line was taken into service in September 2007
  2. It is operated by the transport company IETT
  3. It has an overall length of currently 40.6 km. The first two sections of the BRT line ran between the suburb of Avcilar in north-western Istanbul and Zincirlikuyu in the city centre, and the route was extended to include the Zincirlikuyu – Sögütlücesme connection (on the Asian side of the city) in 2009 as a result of high customer acceptance
  4. The route has no junctions, with a dedicated bus lane in each direction
  5. All the 250 CapaCity buses ordered have now been delivered
  6. At peak times the buses run every 30 seconds
  7. Around 750,000 passengers are carried every day
  8. The average speed incl. stops is a fast 40 km/h
  9. The Metrobus has connections to other regular services at every station
  10. The ticketing system is linked to the Metrobus, subway, tram system, city buses, Dolmuş and ferry

Mercedes-Benz CapaCity: BRT System in Istanbul

Photos and text:
Daimler AG


gedruckt am 12.08.2020 - 00:31