Putting the people of Istanbul at the heart of metro services
For Intelligent Transport, Ozgur Soy, General Manager of Metro Istanbul, explains the pivotal role that customer feedback has played in delivering a more comfortable travel experience for its passengers, and shines a spotlight on all of the projects that the operator has been working on in order to improve the passenger experience.
Metro Istanbul is Turkey’s largest urban rail system operator. The system consists of 18 lines – spanning 207.72km in length – 210 stations, 1,015 vehicles and serves nearly three million passengers every day.
Our goal is to provide a perfect travel experience, and one of our main priorities is to treat our passengers as guests, rather than customers. In order to measure our passengers’ satisfacion, we conduct an annual Passenger Satisfaction Survey through an independent research company.
Furthermore, we conduct regular Secret Customer Surveys, inspecting all of our stations four times per month. This proactive approach allows us to conduct over 10,000 inspections per year, and we can take measures quickly thanks to the detection of situations that may adversely affect passenger comfort. Again, in 2022, we reached 90 points in the Corporate Reputation Survey conducted by an independent research company.
Prioritising the feedback of our customers
In order to provide Istanbul residents with a more comfortable travel experience, we value the feedback of our passengers”
In order to provide Istanbul residents with a more comfortable travel experience, we value the feedback of our passengers. Based on the feedback that we receive, we determine the needs and priorities of our passengers and improve our service quality. In this direction, in 2022, we started the feedback period using QR codes on all of the lines that we operate, located in our stations and vehicles.
We have also established a new communication channel with our passengers, in addition to phone, email and social media accounts. Passengers can send their feedback – such as a thank you, or complaints and suggestions – to our customer service team through the Metro Istanbul mobile application by scanning any one of the 18,000 QR codes that have been placed on our lines with their mobile phone camera. Our customer service team can easily identify the station, vehicle or equipment where the reported QR code is located and quickly intervene. As a result of these efforts, the response time to feedback that is received from our passengers has decreased to one day as of the second half of 2022.
In addition to surveys and research, we analyse feedback from our passengers through various communication channels and take actions to increase passenger comfort with our solution‑oriented and agile approach. In 2019, we implemented Night Metro services on five of our metro lines and began offering uninterrupted service for 66 hours on these lines during the weekends. Due to the pandemic, we had to suspend this service; but, in 2022, we resumed it and, in response to passenger requests, we included our M7 line, providing service to a total of about five million passengers on six lines.
Keeping our passengers connected with inclusive services
In line with our principle of inclusivity, we make sure to consider the comfort of all our passengers”
Istanbul, one of the world’s prominent metropolises, also serves as the capital of events. We take actions such as extending, intensifying or making non-stop trips in order to facilitate access to areas where large-scale events such as matches, concerts, rallies and conferences are held, and to enable Istanbul residents to return home safely. Furthermore, we also extend our schedule on special days like Ramadan and New Year’s Eve.
Metros are a type of transportation that provide uninterrupted service, regardless of the weather. With the awareness that we are one of the types of transportation that can continue to operate on days when there is heavy snowfall and the wider transportation system is disrupted, we take actions such as extending our schedule. In addition, during the past winter, we set up warming stations in seven of our stations with high passenger traffic and provided tea service to our passengers on cold days.
In line with our principle of inclusivity, we make sure to consider the comfort of all our passengers. Therefore, we have set up fully equipped baby care rooms at our Bostanci, Kozyatagi and Kadikoy stations, as a pilot project to meet the needs of parents of young children while travelling. Furthermore, as part of a new project that we have started, we are installing charging units in 126 stations to allow our passengers with mobility impairments to charge their wheelchairs.
We prioritise the use of environmentally friendly modes of transportation for a sustainable city and world”
Rail systems are the most environmentally friendly forms of public transportation. We prioritise the use of environmentally friendly modes of transportation for a sustainable city and world. In this direction, we have taken various steps to popularise the use of zero-emission bicycles in Istanbul and to integrate them with the metro system. We have extended the time limit for passengers to travel with their bicycles on our vehicles and created bicycle parking areas at 26 of our stations. This way, our passengers with bicycles can park their bikes at our stations and continue their journey by metro.
Another implementation that we have developed based on the requests of our passengers is the free Wi-Fi service that we have launched with the support of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM). We initially started this service on our vehicles on the M2 Yenikapı-Hacıosman metro line – which is heavily used by students – as a pilot, and then moved it to our stations. We have also created areas called Blue Zones at the front of station supervisor offices, where our passengers can benefit from the free IMM Wi-Fi service.
In addition, we have installed USB charging ports on the inside of the vehicles on the M2 Yenikapı‑Hacıosman metro line. We have also provided our passengers with the opportunity to charge their mobile phones during their journeys by installing a total of 384 USB charging ports on the 192 vehicles serving on this line.
It’s more than just travelling from point A to point B
Metros are not just trains that only take you from point A to point B. We know how valuable time is for those living in Istanbul. Many of us can’t find the time to go to a concert or exhibition amidst our daily busyness. That’s why we’ve positioned metro areas as cultural-artistic intersections. We welcome our passengers on our lines with permanent art works instead of grey walls, exhibitions held at our stations and performances by our metro musicians.
In 2022, our stations hosted a total of 11 exhibitions. It is extremely important for artists to have their work displayed in stations that receive around three million passengers daily. That’s why we receive many requests from artists, which makes us happy. As a result, our passengers encounter 140 talented metro musicians displaying their performances in our 54 stations.
In addition, outside of our stations, we’re bringing new event venues to Istanbul. The Approach (Yaklaşım) Tunnel Taksim, which we opened in 2021, was one of the host venues for the Istanbul Biennial in 2022 and received more than 2,000 visitors per day. In 2022, we also hosted the Primitive Love Collection fashion show at the Approach Taksim.
We believe that listening to sweet music or visiting a beautiful art exhibition amidst the daily hustle and bustle makes our passengers happy. Furthermore, we celebrate special days by organising various events together with our passengers. Whatever is present in city life is also reflected in metro areas.
Diversifying our workforce to enhance the passenger experience
At Metro Istanbul, we act with the understanding that a person should be hired based on their qualifications and not their gender”
Rail systems are a male-dominated industry worldwide. However, at Metro Istanbul, in 2019, we began a change and transformation movement aimed at being a role model for our own industry, and all male-dominated industries, in terms of gender equality. In this direction, we increased the number of female employees by 116%, and the rate of promotion for women by 32 times. The number of women working as train drivers, which is often referred to as a man’s job in society, increased by approximately 23 times during this period, from eight to 181. For the first time in our company’s history, we have hired a female station supervisor and our first female Technical Maintenance Chief also took office.
At Metro Istanbul, we act with the understanding that a person should be hired based on their qualifications and not their gender, and we have seen that women can do all of the jobs that are said to be a ‘man’s job’ in society. We can clearly observe the impact of our work and our female employees on society from the job applications that we receive. In addition, as a result of our efforts, we are proud to have been awarded many domestic and international awards.
With this understanding, on International Women’s Day 2022, we carried out a highly meaningful event with the Istanbul Foundation. In our Levent station, we organised an event called ‘Kindness Station’, where we sold second-hand clothing, accessories and shoes that had been donated by women in good financial standing. With the proceeds from this one-day sale, we were able to cover the educational needs of 30 middle school girls for one year. This movement of solidarity, passed from woman to woman, was also highly popular among our passengers, and we decided to make this event a tradition.
Continuing our mission to serve the people of Istanbul
We are proud to continue our mission of forming the backbone of urban mobility in Istanbul, offering our passengers punctual, comfortable, fun, environmentally friendly, technological and economic transportation solutions”
In Turkey, one out of every two passengers travelling by rail systems is carried by Metro Istanbul. Istanbul is currently the city with the most metro construction in the world and, with the new lines that will be put into service, our passenger numbers will increase. This also means an increase in our responsibility.
However, Metro Istanbul is a well-established company with 34 years of knowledge and experience. We are proud to continue our mission of forming the backbone of urban mobility in Istanbul, offering our passengers punctual, comfortable, fun, environmentally friendly, technological and economic transportation solutions, as well as increasing the appeal and quality of life of the city through our implemented and planned applications.
Ozgur Soy has been the General Manager of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Affiliate (Metro Istanbul) since 13 February 2020. He currently holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from INSEAD and completed the Port Management Certificate Program with a scholarship from the Singapore government, as part of the Singapore Cooperation Program. He is still at the Doctorate thesis stage at Istanbul Technical University. Ozgur has served in administrative positions in various companies, such as Kumport, Procter & Gamble, DHL, Schneider Electric, Arcelik, Borusan Logistics and Trenkwalder. He gave lectures at Yeditepe University and Uludag University in International Logistics Management, and has participated as a speaker at many conferences in Turkey, Europe and the Middle East.