Skip to main content
EU Urban Mobility Observatory
11 July 2022

Istanbul's new Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan

  • Urban mobility planning
  • Turkey
Resource type
  • Case study
Case study image: Istanbul

First published on 11 July 2022. 

Istanbul is a city of culture and commerce and attracts visitors from all over the world. It is the most significant economic centre in Turkey and a gateway to developing regions and cultures. However, Istanbul is a congested city, facing significant mobility and traffic problems.

Istanbul Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) was developed by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) in cooperation with Arup between September 2019-March 2022 within the scope of the Global Future Cities Programme (GFCP) run by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in partnership with UN-Habitat. The plan was launched to the public on 28 March 2022 by IMM Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu.

The Istanbul SUMP is the first in Turkey and is the first global SUMP for a mega city with a population of almost 16 million. It opens a new chapter in the city’s transport development by placing people, accessibility and public engagement at the centre of the planning process, with the aim of improving quality of life for all.

Istanbul is also one of the Mission Cities selected (part of the extra 12 non-EU cities from countries associated to Horizon Europe) to participate in the EU Mission for '100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030'.


Istanbul, with 15.8 million residents, is the most populous city in Europe. Due to rapid urbanisation, growing population, rising mobility demand and motorisation, the city is facing traffic congestion and mobility problems.

The total number of daily trips in Istanbul is 30.3 million, of which 41% are made by foot, 16% by private vehicles, 15% by company/school buses and 28% by public transport during peak hours. 74% of all public transport trips are made by rubber-tyred modes (bus, Metrobus/BRT, minibus), 24% by rail and 2% by sea lines.

Case study image: Istanbul SUMP

The core objective of the Istanbul SUMP is to put residents at the centre of planning processes and to encourage the use of sustainable transport modes. The plan also focuses on reducing car dependency and the adverse effects of carbon emissions, air and noise pollution and traffic accidents.

The Istanbul SUMP process includes a multidisciplinary and multilevel collaboration between various parties and organisations to coordinate policies and measures in the areas such as land-use and environmental planning, economic development, safety, health, education and information technologies, and social inclusion and gender equality. Also, the Istanbul SUMP is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in all aspects, from scope to context, vision and projects at the expected level.

In action 

The process of developing and implementing the Istanbul SUMP adapted from the ELTIS guidelines is summarised below:

Preparation and analysis:

Institutional resources and the local planning context were assessed. An interdepartmental SUMP team within the IMM was established to promote collaboration and create ownership of the study. An extensive stakeholder participation and engagement strategy was undertaken, and a social inclusion analysis was carried out to define underrepresented groups. All of the eight underrepresented groups that are defined in the Global Future Cities Programme as women, elderly, children/youth, low-income groups/unemployed persons, persons living with disabilities, ethnic minorities, refugees and foreigners/tourists were represented and participated in the stakeholder engagement process. The current situation in Istanbul was analysed in terms of demographics, employment, economy, climate change, governance and other sectoral relationships.

Strategy development:

The functional urban area of the Istanbul SUMP was defined. Scenarios, vision and objectives were developed with the engagement of NGOs, businesses, professional chambers and experts. A series of indicators were defined to measure the Istanbul SUMP objectives. In the scenario building process, the following five different scenarios were developed around two main uncertainties, economic prosperity and governance:

  1. Business as Usual (BAU)
  2. Sprawl City
  3. Efficient City
  4. Resilient-Green City
  5. Inclusive City

Measure planning:

A longlist of measures was prepared with contributions from stakeholders to ensure that social inclusion and gender equality were covered. This step was followed by shortlisting all proposed policies into measure packages. Istanbul SUMP projects were chosen by considering international best practice, professional experience, IMM pipeline projects and action suggestions made by stakeholders during workshops. Selected projects were prioritised, based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative appraisals (Benefit-Cost Ratio/BCR, Multi-Criteria Analysis/MCA, SDGs, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion/GESI).

Implementation, monitoring and evaluation:

A systematic monitoring and evaluation framework was developed to track the success of the implementation of proposed SUMP projects.

In addition to the above phases, a governance structure was developed for the basic principles and framework in the planning and implementation of the Istanbul SUMP; a capacity building programme on the theoretical and practical aspects of SUMP planning was conducted; a specific study on data management and integration was carried out.

Moreover, a distinctive aspect of the Istanbul SUMP was the application of UN-Habitat SDG Project Assessment Tool for the localization of the SDGs. At the end of the participatory and iterative process, the SDG profile of the plan was determined and strategies were developed to optimize its alignment to the SDGs.


The Istanbul SUMP is based on the vision of an urban future guided by objectives, strategic indicators and targets, and the selection of suitable measures. The vision of the plan evolved by ensuring strong communication with a wide range of stakeholders is defined as: “An inclusive and innovative transport system, focusing on people and the environment, providing the right mix of safe, integrated, accessible and affordable mobility alternatives, compatible with the unique geography and historical values of Istanbul for a sustainable and resilient future”.

The vision is based on nine key objectives that must be achieved as the plan progresses. These objectives are:

  • Have an accessible, affordable, integrated and inclusive transportation system.
  • Have an environmentally sustainable transportation system.
  • Have an economically sustainable and resilient transportation system.
  • Reduce traffic volumes, congestion and automobile dependency.
  • Improve the safety and security of transport and travelling.
  • Stimulate the modal shift to public transport.
  • Stimulate the modal shift to active modes (walking and cycling).
  • Have a transportation system that promotes compact and polycentric development.
  • Have an efficient city logistics system with minimal negative impact
Case study image: Istanbul bike sharing

The Istanbul SUMP suggests 26 core projects grouped under three themes in order to achieve the goals mentioned above:

  1. Theme 1-Transition to Low Carbon: Low Emission Zones, Decarbonisation of Metrobus (BRT), Decarbonisation of the Public Transport Bus Fleet, Cycle Feeder Routes, Pedestrian Routes, Traffic Calming, Junction Improvements for Pedestrians and Cyclists, E-bikes and E-Scooters.
  2. Theme 2-Seamless Transfer and Integration: Rail Network Extension, Istanbulkart Extension to Include Minibus Operations, Istanbul Network Management Control Centre (INMCC), Bus Lanes, Minibus Feeder Routes, Passenger Sea Transport-Fleet Renewal, Extension of Transfer Centres, Extension of Real Time Passenger Information and Open Data, Bus Service Improvement Programme (BSIP), Park and Ride Facilities.
  3. Theme 3-Reducing Congestion: Congestion Charging, Extension of Parking Regulation, Residents’ Parking Permit System, Introduction of an Automated Payment System for Parking, Reorganisation of Parking Regulation Enforcement, Implementation of Institutional Mobility Management, Construction Materials Concentration Centres, Neighbourhood Mobility Service Centres.

In addition, all these projects are cut across by the following four sub-themes:

  1. Safety
  2. GESI
  3. Resilience
  4.  Innovation

As a result, the Istanbul SUMP, which will provide all the residents of the city with easy access to transportation services and make these services low-priced and environmentally-sensitive, will improve the quality of life in the city. Safer and more accessible transportation will increase the number of urban trips and improve urban mobility for all segments of society. The plan will reduce traffic congestion and enable residents to meet their needs such as job opportunities or educational and health services easily. It will reduce air and noise pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy consumption by shifting motorized transport to public transport, active and micro-mobility.

Some of the predictions and targets of the Istanbul SUMP for 2040:

  • The population will be 18.9 million and employment will be 6.6 million. It is expected that the number of daily journeys in the city will increase to 38.1 million.
  • 70% of the daily journeys will be made by walking and public transportation.
  • The share of the rail system in public transportation is expected to increase to 47%.
  • According to the predictions of the Istanbul Transportation Model, the total time spent on the transportation network will decrease 30%.
  • Carbon emissions generated by transportation will be reduced by 60% in 2040 and to zero in 2050.
Challenges, opportunities and transferability 

As the Covid-19 pandemic and Istanbul SUMP overlapped, all stakeholder engagements planned within the inception period were revised according to pandemic requirements and carried out accordingly. Given the size of the population and number of different stakeholders raising different interests, it has been an enormous study.

The adoption of the Istanbul SUMP offers various opportunities to the city and its residents. As the proposed projects are implemented, the livability of urban areas and therefore the quality of life of citizens will increase, and economic development will accelerate. In addition, the plan will facilitate access to national and EU funds for urban mobility. IMM also applied to the IPA IITransport Sectoral Operational Programme and was awarded a grant to implement various projects proposed by the Istanbul SUMP.

Case study image: Istanbul public transport


The IMM Transportation Planning Directorate will be the SUMP governing body and will serve as a coordination unit for the monitoring and evaluation of the Istanbul SUMP. Sustainable Urban Mobility Office established under this directorate will also take role in communication and capacity building activities for the Istanbul SUMP projects. In addition, it is foreseen that knowledge and experience gained within the scope of the Istanbul SUMP will be a guide for other cities in Turkey that will start to develop SUMPs.

In Depth 

Website for the Istanbul SUMP: is external)

Contact: ulasimplanlamaatibb [dot] gov [dot] tr (ulasimplanlama[at]ibb[dot]gov[dot]tr)


Photo Credits: Nick N A, karakartal, Anikin Dmitrii,  © / - no permission to re-use image(s) without separate licence from Shutterstock.