Using Akbil in Istanbul

The Akbil electronic transit pass in Istanbul, is being phased out in favor of the Istanbulkart RFID chip card (which is finally available), but Akbils are still in use, so here’s how to use one.

When you board a bustramTünelMetrosea bus,Füniküler or ferry in Istanbul, look for people touching their Akbil electronic transit passes to the Akbil fare-point, a little circular socket. (See the photo to the right—>.)

In buses it’s at the front near the driver. For trams, the Tünel and ferries it’s in the turnstiles.) When you touch it correctly, the fare-point emits a double beep tone (BEE-boop) to let you and the conductor know that you’ve paid the fare.

The fare is deducted electronically from your Akbil button. When you’ve used up most of its value, recharge it by paying cash to a guy in one of the ubiquitous snack/drink/news kiosks you’ll see near Metro, tram and ferry stations. Give him your Akbil button and the amount of liras you want to recharge it with, and he’ll do the deed and give you a receipt and any change.

Biletmatik Machines are located at busy transit points. They are of several shapes and sizes, with an Akbilcontact point, a slot to insert TL notes/bills, and a TV screen with instructions (in Turkish or English).

Here’s what the instructions say:

1. Touch your Akbil button to the contact-point and hold it there

2. Insert a newish, undamaged Turkish Lira note of 5, 10 or 20 liras into the slot to the right

3. Your Akbil button will be recharged with the amount of the note/bill you’ve inserted.

These automated recharge points may reject bills/notes that are well worn, and the machines are sometimes out of order.

—Tom Brosnahan


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