Turkey's first trolleybus back on road

By Nilay Kar , Thursday, March 20, 2014

A remake of Turkey’s first domestically manufactured trolleybus 'Tosun,' which runs from Taksim to Edirnekapi district of Istanbul twice a day, draws both Istanbulites and international travellers

A remake of Turkey’s first domestically manufactured trolleybus 'Tosun,' which runs from Taksim to Edirnekapi district of Istanbul twice a day, draws both Istanbulites and international travellers

ISTANBUL - 30 years after its retirement, the Istanbul Electric Tram and Tunnel Company replicated the veteran trolley which has come back into operation this week. The trolleybus has been manufactured in accordance with its original style and color within three months to operate just like in the old days. 

When Turkey's first domestically manufactured trolleybus 'Tosun' meaning 'plump' came into operation in 1968, the technically strong Italian-made trolleybuses were mounted on Istanbul's trolley poles. The trolleybus, also known as the trackless tram, is an electric bus that draws its electricity from overhead wires, generally suspended from roadside posts using spring-loaded trolley poles. 

Istanbul's transport authority decided to manufacture its first domestic trolley with the aim of being more self-reliant and to reduce the dependence on foreign dominance of the Italian-made trolleys, a move that allowed the continuance of the trolleybuses to carry hundreds of thousands of Istanbul residents for years. 

After five months of arduous work, they produced Turkey’s first domestic trolleybus. It appeared on Istanbul streets as an alienated soul among its Italian-made fellows until 1984; the year it retired.

The cause of its withdrawal was that the vehicles, reliant on electricity, began to create sustained traffic jams on the streets when a problem with electricity supply was encountered.  

"Due to the negative effects of these trolleybuses, they stopped operating in 1984," Hayri Baracli, general manager of Istanbul Electricity, Tramway and Tunnel Company (IETT) told Anadolu Agency. 

"We've put this trolleybus into service for touristic and nostalgic reasons. We only have 'Tosun' operating now but we will produce one more in the near future and will increase this number according to growing demand," Baracli said.

The 'Tosun' runs on the Edirnekapi-Taksim route, in the center of Istanbul. It works twice a day and does not operate on weekends. Efforts to produce more buses are also ongoing, the IETT official noted.

Istanbulites are sentimental over this nostalgic form of transport. "Our people are very happy when they see the trolleybus because it takes them back to their past. It draws tourists as well," he emphasized. 

Ziya Oncel, the trolleybus driver, explains the amount of interest that the trolleybus generates: "The first day that we began service, it was very busy and we were only able to complete our journey with a 30 minute delay. People kept stopping the vehicle and wanted to take a photo. The passengers did not even want to get off."

A local man who remembers the first trolleybus in the 1960s told AA that "it is very similar with the old one. When I've saw this for the first time, I became very happy and wanted to get in." 

You need to pay 1.95 TL, the same as other city buses' fares. The next route of the trolleybus is expected to be from Taksim to Ortakoy, which is located in the middle of the European bank of the Bosphorus.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency