Istanbul taxi drivers to be obliged to speak English
The new project will usher in certain standards such as an age limit for drivers and the knowledge of the English language, if approved by the Transportation Coordination Center (UKOME).
Taxi driver standards will be determined and a comprehensive examination process will be carried out with a transportation academy to be established.
The project also foresees a model where drivers will work in three shifts and will be required to wear uniforms.
But the most significant novelty of this model is the option to pay for the ride by Istanbulkart, an electronic pass used for mass transit in Istanbul, the country’s largest city by population.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has frequently complained about the lack of taxis in the city, with a meager 17,000 catering to a population of more than 15 million people.
His announcement of adding 6,000 new taxis to the city’s fleet incurred the wrath of taxi drivers who complain of a decline in business amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the introductory meeting held by the municipality officials, the taxi driver’s chamber representatives noted the high costs, long working hours and unmonitored alternatives like “pirate taxis” who were mushrooming across the city.
But some taxi drivers harshly reacted to the introduction of 6,000 new license plates before the problems of the sector were resolved.
There are 17,395 licensed taxis operating and the new taxi plates have not been on sale since the 1960’s with the exception of complementary decisions in Istanbul.
A plate for a yellow taxi is priced around 1.9 million Turkish Liras (nearly $280,000).
Taxis are widely preferred by tourists or locals tired of overcrowded mass transit.
Istanbul’s notorious taxi drivers have been at the center of a string of complaints in the past years, from harassing tourists to overcharging passengers.