AKBIL - Istanbul's e-ticket

Where to buy Akbil

Which one to choose

Some Turkish to help you when buying Akbil

How to use your Akbil

How to refill your Akbil?

How to Use "Akbil 24" (self-serviced automatic refilling machine)

Transportation in Istanbul

Historic Tunnel
Nostalgic Tram
Underground Metro
Trams&Rapid Trams (coming soon)
Metro (coming soon)
Trains (coming soon)
Ferry Boats (coming soon)
Sea Busses (coming soon)


Istanbul, being one of the oldest and biggest metropolitan cities in the world with its 12 million inhabitants, also has the common problem of traffic congestion like many other big and crowded cities all over the world.

As a tourist however, you can try to avoid being stuck in the traffic by travelling in the off-peak times as much as possible, rather than travelling when local people are trying to rush to and back from their offices. The rush hour for Istanbul would be between 8:00 - 9:30 am in the mornings and 5:00-7:00 pm in the evenings.

The city transportation means in Istanbul are public buses, privately owned buses, "dolmus" which is a kind of shared taxi that sometimes can be in the form of a large car, a station wagon, or a regular taxi, minibuses, taxis, public ferry boats & privately owned ferry boats, sea buses, underground Metro, trams, rapid trams, nostalgic tram, tunnel and trains.

AKBIL - Istanbul's e-ticket when travelling in the city

Before I go in detail in each of these transportation means used in Istanbul, I would first like to inform you about the e-ticket called "Akbil" ("Akilli Bilet" meaning, The Intelligent Ticket), which is used widely in most of the vehicles mentioned above. It is very convenient, easy to use and very useful if you want to make same savings while you travel. It is widely used in public buses, private buses, public ferry boats, sea buses, underground Metro, trams, rapid trams, nostalgic tram, in the tunnel and the suburban train lines are also added to this list recently.

The source of the information on the next two paragraphs is on  http://www.ibb.gov.tr/ibbeng/202/20208/2020802/2020802index.htm

Akbil's hardware

Before Akbil, Istanbul's mass transit riders were daily purchasing 45 different kinds of tickets, tokens, passes and cards to board different public transport systems used in Istanbul.  Then in 1994 Turkish engineers in BELBIM Company programmed this chip to handle the micro-cash transactions for transit passes and developed pass readers and refill stations for Akbil. The Akbil Project, being the first in Turkey and the biggest throughout the world serves 2.3 million passengers today. Since Akbil itself is practically indestructible for many years, the city does not have to keep reinvesting in it's hardware.

Moreover, Akbil is no longer just a smart electronic ticket, but enters the area of car park billing, vending machines, electronic entrance control systems and used on employee work time control as well in Istanbul. The system works so well that city engineers plan to further AKBIL's usage areas on the city's utilities where customers will be able to buy cubic meters of gas and water with their key fobs. At local Marmara University, the plan is to make it possible for students to buy lunch with their Akbil's. Akbil operated car parking system is in service at the Üsküdar Municipality’s multi-storey car park. Similar projects will be applied at the Harem Heavy Vehicle Parking and the İDO Yenikapı Fast Ferry Terminal Car Parking. Akbil operated employee work time control and security system is in use at 80 checkpoints including the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and the Istanbul Water and Sewers Administration (ISKI).

For more information on Akbil and Belbim company visit: www.belbim.com.tr 

Where to buy Akbil:

In Istanbul you will see "I.E.T.T" sign on every kiosk that sells bus ticket or Akbil. You can find these kiosks  wherever there is a major intra-city bus station, like in the neighbourhoods of Besiktas, Taksim, Kadiköy, and Mecidiyekoy. There are also privately owned kiosks that sell bus tickets, however they can't sell Akbil. You can tell if the kiosk is a public or a private one by the appearance easily. This is how a public kiosk will look like (In the picture below right).

I.E.T.T sign on the left is basically the sign of public buses in Istanbul. If you go to another city this sign will change. Some public kiosks only sell I.E.T.T tickets and others sell only Akbil. This separation is done to serve people as quickly as possible.  If the kiosk is only selling bus ticket, it writes "Bilet" meaning ticket on the kiosk. If it sells Akbil however, you will see "AKBIL" written on the kiosk.

Inside the kiosk there is an Akbil officer who sells a new plastic Akbil hardware, if yet you don't have any, or basically fills out your Akbil using the Akbil Computer. If you are the first time buyer however, you need to pay a deposit (not too expensive) to buy one of these plastic hardwares and purchase some credit on it.

After buying your first plastic Akbil hardware, you just need to refill your credit whenever you need more. You can refill your Akbil by either using these kiosks again where you can find a real person to help you, or you can choose to refill it using the automatic refill machines which I will explain in detail later on.

Which one to choose:

There are three types of Akbil sold at the kiosk.

1-Normal Akbil: is for adults. It has a normal charge rate (This is the one you will need if you are a tourist for a limited time in Istanbul).
Mavi Akbil: Meaning Blue Akbil. This is a Monthly Akbil, with a fixed price that should be refilled each month you want to use it. You can use Mavi Akbil in public I.E.T.T buses as much as you want, the available credit will not decrease. However, you can not use this type of Akbil on private buses or sea buses. (Mavi Akbil is convenient for people who travel on a fixed route that requires more than one bus on daily basis. Like on the way to work everyday).
Discounted Akbil: is for students, old people and war veterans of Turkey. This Akbil should always be attached to Discount Student ID's obtained from I.E.T.T in the begining of each term.
4- Now there is also other options like
weekly or fortnightly Akbil available, but you should check it with the officers cause new ways of using Akbil are put in use frequently.


The following Turkish might help you when buying Akbil:
* If you are the first time buyer, to say you want to buy a normal Akbil plastic hardware, say: "Yeni normal Akbil almak istiyorum" meaning I want to buy a new normal Akbil.

* Then the officer might ask you your colour preference by showing you the options, if the queue behind you is not too long. If he does so, just choose one. If you have many people waiting however, he might just gave you one randomly.

* Then the officer will ask you how much credit you want to put on your Akbil. You can just show him the exact money or learn these numbers in Turkish if you wish:

If you also like to hear how these numbers are pronounced in Turkish visit http://www.onlineturkish.com/triala.asp

1=bir, 2=iki, 3=uc, 4=dort, 5=bes, 6=alti, 7=yedi, 8=sekiz, 9=dokuz, 10=on,
11=on bir, 12=on iki, 13=on uc, 14=on dort, 15=on bes, 16=on alti, 17=on yedi, 18=on sekiz, 19=on dokuz, 20=yirmi,
 21=yirmi bir, 22=yirmi iki  ...... you must have understand the idea by now
30=otuz, 40=kirk, 50=elli, 60=atmis, 70=yetmis, 80=seksen, 90=doksan, 100=yuz,
then again the same thing 101=yuz bir and so on....
million=Milyon in Turkish, so to say 10 million you just say "on milyon"

note: I can advise you to buy 10,000,000 (10 million TL) credit, which will allow you approx. 10 rides according to November 2002 rates. Note that this may vary because Turkey has very high inflation rates so, prices change frequently.


How to use your Akbil:

On the bus: You will see an Orange Box next to the entrance door with a socket where you should touch with your Akbil. When you touch that box, you will hear a kind of a beep sound, just once, indicating you have enough credit to take the ride. A different sound for three times is used to indicate you do not have enough credit in which case you are not eligible to take the ride.

Because you can not pay for the ride to the bus driver, you would have to leave the bus and buy some credit first. So one should always be sure to have enough credit before boarding on the bus. Alternatively, you can choose to keep a spare bus ticket with you to use in such cases, or ask other passengers in the bus if they have an extra ticket for sale.  No need to be shy, people usually help each other in these cases.

To see if you have enough credit before boarding on, you can use the automatic refilling machines. Alternatively, to see your credit left, you can check the screen of the orange box each time you use your Akbil in the bus.

using your Akbil on the bus - take notice to the orange box

In the entrances to the Ferry, Sea Bus, Tramway and Metro Stations:
You will again need to do the same thing but this time the Steel turnstiles replaces the orange boxes that you find in the buses. Steel Turnstiles have the same socket to touch with your Akbil.

Steel Turnstiles in the Ferry, Sea Bus, Tramway and Metro stations

How to refill your Akbil?

To refill your Akbil you can either go back to the public I.E.T.T kiosks where you are served by a real person or use the automatic refilling machines called "Akbil 24". The sharp increase in the number of Akbil users resulted in the need of speedy, self-serviced automatic refilling machines. Today 68 automatic "Akbil 24" refilling machines serve people throughout Istanbul.

Akbil 24 - Self serviced Automatic Refilling Machines

How to Use "Akbil 24" (self-serviced automatic refilling machine)


1-Touch the socket with your Akbil you want to charge.

2-When you touch the socket, Akbil 24 will first tell you how much credit is left on your Akbil accompanied with a message regarding how to use Akbil 24. A green light will be on, on the money-recognizing unit during this process.

3-Check which notes are accepted by Akbil 24. Never insert any other notes other than indicated. Insert the notes in the right direction as illustrated alongside the "Money Entrance" of the money scanning unit. And lastly be sure the notes you insert are not too old or ripped.

*If you insert the note in a wrong direction, the note won't be recognized, the related message will appear on the screen and your money will be returned from the return hole

4-After you insert the note correctly, the amount of the inserted note will appear on the screen and the green light will be replaced by a red light on the money-recognizing unit.

5-Wait until prompted to touch your Akbil to the socket once again in order for Akbil 24 to recharge it.

* You should touch the socket with your Akbil in 20 seconds after you inserted the note and you are prompted, otherwise a related message will appear on the screen and AKBIL 24 will return to its first position (the customer waiting position).

6-When you touch your Akbil to the socket for the second time, the credit will be added to your Akbil according to the note you inserted. A message will appear on the screen regarding the transfer. The sale process will be completed when you receive an information slip that details the record of the transaction.


Now that you know how to use your e-ticket Akbil, we now can look at the each transportation means in the city in detail. Please click next.

next page
top of this page