Everywhere you look there are exhaust fumes, and people carrying their suitcases, looking around between the labyrinthine platforms for their buses, or for their transfer vehicles. The sounds of horns mix with the sounds of people. All around are repairmen, covered in oil and dirt, as well as bus attendants and drivers, shirts in hand, looking for dry cleaners.
The İstanbul Otogarı (bus station) seems more like an industrial site than a bus station. Its layout oozes chaos. Looking down from the upper floors, it might be hard to get a sense of the true chaos, but once you head downstairs, you enter the arena of bad odors and crowds. The dampness and mold can really be felt here as well. You might even be startled by the loud blast of a bus horn from right behind you; the buses are everywhere! As for the flow of humanity around you, it is endlessly varied. Strutting by you on one side might be someone’s chickens, while on your other side you might see some “tinerci” (narcotic-users, called “tinerci” because of their propensity for sniffing paint thinner.)
Some of the repairmen who have made their living for years working on these buses are sick and tired of working on the bottom floors of the İstanbul Otogarı, where “tinerci” and other problems emerge in force at nighttime. Almost all of the repairmen complain of serious neglect. The drivers and attendants who work the buses note that this is by far Turkey’s worst bus station, and complain not only about the parking problems but also the prices here.
Of course, the real victims in all this are the travelers themselves. The station does not possess helpful signage. As a result, travelers wander around, looking lost, with no direction. At the same time, there are significant safety lapses on the bottom floors. No security personnel at all seem to stop off to see what is happening there. In fact, it seems that lack of order has taken root and taken over at the İstanbul Otogarı for now.