Public Transportation in Istanbul After Pandemic: Impacts, Recovery & Future Resilience

Aktaş, Bersu
Public transportation has been the mode of transport that was hit hardest by COVID-19. The impact of the pandemic on urban transportation has raised concerns that public transportation was losing ground and that this would be a permanent trend. However, there is a lack of research on the long-lasting impact of the pandemic on different modes of public transportation in developing countries with respect to resilience in the post-COVID-19 period. Therefore, the research questions of whether and how this pandemic permanently changed the demand for public transportation emerge as crucial issues for the planning and operation of urban transport systems in the recovery period. In addition, whether the lessons learned from this health crisis led to a new policy approach for resilience in future crises is another important question. Building on these research questions, this thesis provides a comprehensive review of the literature on the impact of COVID-19 on urban transport with a special focus on public transportation; and it carries out an in-depth analysis of public transport modes during and after the pandemic in Istanbul. The first part of the research is focused on descriptive analysis to demonstrate the change in the number of passengers of each mode of public transportation in Istanbul during and after the pandemic. In the second part of the research, semi-structured interviews with decision-makers are conducted to inquire about resilience in policy responses to future crises. The key findings indicate the fastest recovery in the urban rail system, with a 16 % increase in ridership in 2022 compared to the ridership level in 2019. In contrast, maritime public transit modes prove to be the most vulnerable modes, remaining approximately 17% below the ridership levels of 2019. Additionally, the results of the semi-structured interviews show that the pandemic led to awareness about resilience in transport practice. The research sheds new light on the policy needs for different modes of transport to adapt to future crises, with a particular emphasis on the most resilient and vulnerable modes of public transport during the pandemic.
Citation Formats
B. Aktaş, “Public Transportation in Istanbul After Pandemic: Impacts, Recovery & Future Resilience,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2023.