Istanbul ferry firm cites new projects, losses for cancelling intra-city routes
The seabus and fast ferry company of Istanbul, known as İDO, has cited seven economic reasons, including the recent depreciation of the Turkish Lira and the tender of a bridge across a major bay neighboring Istanbul.
İDO said in a statement on Nov. 19 that it could get only a limited 22 percent price increase permit from the municipality in the past three years despite its increasing costs, which it claims to stand 85 percent.
The Osmangazi Bridge, built over the İzmit Bay and opened in July 2016, has dramatically lowered the demand for the ferry line running between Kocaeli’s Eskihisar and Yalova’s Topçular piers, the company said.
The company cited a government incentive provided for the bridge operators, which came after the opening of the bridge in 2016, naming the drop in the bridge fee “unfair competition.”
A similar loss was caused by a permit to a subsidiary of NEGMAR, which also operates a ferry root between Istanbul’s Eskihisar and Topçular in the neighboring province of Yalova, an alternative route to the Osmangazi brigde, according to IDO.
İDO operated its fast ferry lines, starting from 1987, within the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality until it was acquired by the Tepe-Akfen-Souter-Sera consortium for $861 million in 2011.
The Nov. 19 statement by the company read that the Istanbul municipality’s allocation of free piers to BUDO, another ferry company from the province of Bursa, is also against fair competition.
It said a plot in Istanbul’s Ambarlı neighborhood, which would be used as a hub for Ro-Ro routes to the province of Yalova, the district of Mudanya in Bursa and Bandırma in Balıkesir, has not been handed to the company, contradicting to the privatization deal.
The weight of vehicles carried in the lucrative Sirkeci-Harem route, which connects the Anatolian and Eruopean sides of the city were limited to 3.5 tons and heavier vehicles were directed to the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, a new connection over the Bosphorus, İDO said.
An İDO pier in the Kabataş district by the Bosphorus was closed due to a facility construction, causing a drop in passenger numbers it said.
Thus, the company said it has decided to temporarily cancel ferries running between Beşiktaş and Bakırköy piers on the European side and Bostancı pier on the Anatolian side as of Dec. 1, confirming former reports quoting sources. Ferry lines to the Princes’ Islands will also be halted temporarily.
Former reports said Souter, the Scottish partner of the consortium, pressed for halting the inner city lines.
Routes to destinations out of Istanbul from the piers in Bostancı and Kadıköy on the Anatolian side and main hub Yenikapı on the European side will keep operating, the company said.