Istanbul is one of the oldest and biggest cities in the world. Since the dawn of time, Istanbul has been a center of trade, art and culture, always attracting masses. The city has always been crowded, but with Turkey's population growing, Istanbul now has a population of 15 million.
To meet with the transportation needs of this giant city, the Istanbul Electric Tram and Tunnel Company (İETT) has a huge network spread all over the city carrying millions of people every day.
The buses and metrobuses of Istanbul are the largest means of public transportation in the city. Including 600 metrobuses operating between the two sides of the city, the İETT has 3,000 buses that are operated by 5,000 drivers every day.
Cleaning the buses millions ride every day
With so many interactions throughout the day, it is important to disinfect these vehicles daily. After the buses end their daily routine, they are brought to the garage and disinfection begins starting from the outside of the vehicles.
Once the outside of the buses are cleaned, all metal and plastic parts of the buses as well as the floors are cleaned with a special chemical authorized by the Ministry of Health. The cleaning routine ends after the handles inside the buses are covered with another special chemical to decrease the chance of bacteria transfer.
However, apart from this daily cleaning routine, the buses are cleaned down to the smallest detail and disinfected once a month. Every three months, the buses are also disinfected against bacteria and pests.
Once the cleaning of the buses is finished at night, the buses return to their course and carry millions starting with the first light of day.
Three-phase cleaning to the public transportation
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) on the matter, Vahdet Melikoğlu, head of the İETT Anatolia Garage, said at least 3 million Istanbul residents use İETT buses daily.
"The buses are cleaned in three phases: The first phase is the daily cleaning which includes the disinfection of the interior and external parts of the vehicles. In the first phase, the most important part is to disinfect the parts which people handle the most during their travels. The second phase is the monthly cleaning. Apart from the daily cleaning routine, in this phase, the air ducts are disinfected in order to prevent airborne diseases. Moreover, the driver's seat as well as under the passenger seats and heater cores are cleaned thoroughly. The third and the last phase of the cleaning routine is the disinfection of bacteria and pests which takes place every three months. Our main concern is to protect our passengers from any diseases," Melikoğlu explained.
To sustain the cleanliness and disinfected state of the buses, İETT also takes samples inside the buses and tests them for mold, fungus and bacteria at least twice a year.
These tests are repeated if there is a case of infection in the buses or mid-season when the risk of infections is higher.
Cleaning the most-used public transportation vehicles is not an easy task. The cleaning personnel can only start working after receiving training from the İETT's Department of Energy and Environment and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.
The cleaning personnel have two complaints: The gum left by passengers and the graffiti.
"Gum makes buses open to more infection. The graffiti on the other hand make the buses look dirtier, creating visual pollution and damage to the vehicles. We ask Istanbulites and all the passengers using our buses to keep the buses clean so that they find it clean next time they travel," he added.