Turks issue promise in effort to win favour from the IOC.
If Istanbul wins the right to host the 2020 summer Olympic Games, the Turkish capital has vowed to improve the city’s public transport system so that traffic issues are cut by a third between now and the tournament taking place.
“In 2020, congestion-related problems will be reduced by 30 per cent. We will do our best to avoid congestion,” the deputy secretary-general of the city’s authority in charge of transport, Muzzafer Hacimustafaoglu, told reporters.
“All over the world there is congestion in large cities. This is also a reality for Istanbul. The Olympic Games will happen in summer and in summer the number of cars is reduced by 20 percent.
“Our investment in public transportation will increase dramatically. This will be another plus,” Hacimustafaoglu said on the third day of a visit to the city by the International Olympic Committee’s bid evaluation commission.
Some $9.8 billion (7.6 billion euros) has been ringfenced to develop roads and public transport infrastructure, including a third bridge over the Bosphorus, as well as a seven-line subway tunnel linking the city’s European and Asian shores.
Other measures envisaged include encouraging the use of mass transit systems rather than private cars, flexible working hours and “special charging” for peak travel periods when congestion is a problem.
Transport is considered one of the weak points of Istanbul’s bid as it goes up against Tokyo and Madrid for the right to host the 2020 Games at an IOC meeting in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires on September 7.
The Turkish city has failed on four previous occasions to be awarded the Olympics. Success at the fifth time of asking would take the Games to a Muslim-majority country for the first time.