Istanbul mayor urges taxi drivers to become members of iTaksi
Istanbul Mayor Mevlüt Uysal has urged all taxi drivers in Istanbul to use the iTaksi initiative, an Uber-like ride-hailing service developed by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, amid recent tensions between traditional taxi drivers and Uber drivers.
Uysal criticized that not enough taxi drivers were using the new initiative and were still complaining about Uber.
“The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has developed iTaksi, which is the local version of Uber. In total we have 18,000 taxis in Istanbul, but only 5,000 of them are using iTaksi,” Uysal said.
Uysal said many drivers were avoiding adopting the system mainly because the iTaksi system requires taxis to have internal cameras for audio and video recording.
“You cannot solve this problem through violence. Uber is a comfortable system; however, some decisions that are taken abroad regarding this system may create problems here. Thus, we developed the local version to minimize them,” Uysal said.
Tensions rose in recent weeks between conventional taxi drivers and Uber drivers in Istanbul, with some instances where groups of taxi drivers physically attacked Uber drivers.
Unlike in most other countries, Uber offers a more expensive service to customers in Turkey. As a result, competition between traditional taxis and Uber in Turkey is largely based on quality rather than price, with many locals complaining of poor service provided by taxi drivers.
A lawsuit was recently filed against Uber by the United Taxi Drivers Association (İTEO), with lawyers of the latter demanding that the authorities block access to the Uber application in Turkey. A court adjourned the trial to June 4, saying it is waiting for an expert report regarding the issue to be completed.
Ahead of the second hearing of the lawsuit on March 12, a group of taxi drivers gathered outside Istanbul’s Çağlayan Courthouse to protest against Uber, with banners reading “Uber = Global Thief” and “We do not want global thief Uber.”