Turkey Gets 100 Green Buses for ‘Pearl of the Mediterranean’

The two million residents of Mersin, an ancient port city on Turkey's southern Mediterranean coast, will soon enjoy clean, modern public transport as 100 new buses fueled with compressed natural gas (CNG) are set to replace an ageing diesel bus fleet, thanks to a new loan and grant package from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The EBRD is extending a €15 million (nearly US$17 million) 10-year loan, accompanied by a €7 million (US$8 million) grant from its Shareholder Special Fund, to ease the strain on Mersin’s public transport system and help improve the city's environment.

Mersin is buying 30 accordion-type and 70 solo CNG buses to boost fuel efficiency, decrease maintenance costs, reduce vehicle breakdowns and lower the transport system’s carbon footprint.

On average, the new fleet is expected to help save 20,468 tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually compared with the continued use of the existing diesel buses.

The new buses are urgently needed in this city, often called the "Pearl of the Mediterranean" for its ancient sites and gorgeous old castles. Over the past few years, the Mersin population has grown rapidly, due partly to the settlement of refugees from Syria's war. Turkey continues to host the world’s largest number of refugees, around 3.6 million from Syria, and over 400,000 refugees and migrants from Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries.

The population of Mersin surges at holiday time as the city is a popular destination for tourists from all around the world.

The city is part of an interurban cluster, the Adana-Mersin Metropolitan Area. The fourth largest metropolitan area in Turkey with a population of over three million, it encompasses the cities of Mersin, Tarsus, and Adana. Mersin is an important city for arts, culture and education and important theater, opera and ballet venues and a commuter university are located along the Mersin-Adana motorway.

The EBRD funds will help Mersin expand its urban transport capacity and provide better quality services for the entire area.

"This investment will have a direct impact on people’s lives, providing better, safer public transport and cleaner air in the city," EBRD Managing Director for Turkey Arvid Tuerkner said. "While tackling congestion, a good bus service is also vital to tackling social exclusion."

For the safety of its female passengers, the municipality of Mersin has strengthened its commitment to gender equality and is working on a set of measures to enhance women’s security on public transport.

IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO FIGHT AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE, WHICH AFFECT THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD. WHILE PROTECTING THE AIR, WATER AND SOIL OF OUR CITY, WE ALSO HAVE TO WORK ON ISSUES CONCERNING THE QUALITY OF LIFE, SUCH AS TRANSPORTATION AND CLEAN ENERGY.

Vajap Secer

Mayor of Mersin Metropolitan Municipality

"Our aim is to ensure that our people can be transported in the heat of the summer of Mersin, in the cool, warm weather of winter, without getting cold or getting hot. For this, of course, the latest system, modern public transportation vehicles are needed," the mayor said as the city took delivery of the first CNG buses in the new fleet in April.

"As Mersin Metropolitan Municipality, we are pleased to cooperate with the EBRD on this project, and we will continue to work together for a greener Mersin," Mayor Seçer said. "I would like to thank everyone who put effort into this project, which is going to make a huge contribution to the future of Mersin."

A leading institutional investor in Turkey, the EBRD has invested more than €14 billion in 353 projects in the country since 2009, with the overwhelming majority of those projects in the private sector. Sustainability is at the heart its work.

Through 2024, the EBRD says the bank will focus on strategic priorities in Turkey that include accelerating Turkey’s green economy transition and regional energy connectivity and promoting economic inclusion and gender equality through private sector engagement.

As well as being a country of operation, Turkey is also a donor to the EBRD with a total contribution of €31 million.

Turkey established its first bilateral donor fund with EBRD in January 2019, for an amount of €25 million. The fund aims to support projects in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Romania and the Kyrgyz Republic. The fund prioritizes projects for small and mid-size enterprise development, financial sector stability, sustainable infrastructure, energy efficiency, governance and economic inclusion.