Istanbul taxi system set to be centralized, drivers not happy
ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
A group of taxi drivers held a protest in Istanbul on Sept. 22, claiming that the new system will only benefit the one firm managing the system and blocking competition. AA PhotoWith Istanbul’s taxi system set to be centralized as of next year, many of the city’s taxi drivers are unhappy with the changes, claiming that the new system will be to their disadvantage.
The new taxi project will centralize the over 18,000 taxis currently operating in Istanbul, and is planned to end customer complaints about overcharging, reckless driving, and drivers refusing to take customers on short journeys.
According to a statement from ISPARK, a subsidiary of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the ISTAKSI project will centralize the control of the city’s taxis and also lead to extra profits for drivers. The taxis will be monitored by one center instead of separate taxi ranks across the city, according to the plans, and they will also be equipped with GPS systems in order to curb reckless driving and encourage reduced fuel consumption.
However, a group of taxi drivers held a protest in Istanbul on Sept. 22 on the grounds that the new system will only benefit the one firm managing the system, blocking competition. In the protest, the drivers gathered in the Aksaray neighborhood and drove to the Istanbul Municipality building in the Fatih district, loudly honking their horns.
“We are not against the idea of centralizing the taxis. We are against the idea that one firm will be in charge,” said Hüseyin Duman, the head of the United Taxi Drivers Association.
Duman said they had started a petition campaign to halt the new plans and have collected 5,000 signatures so far.
VeriFone, an American company, will implement the new system, which is already used in 92 countries and includes major cities like New York and London.
As part of the new system, customers will be able to pay by credit card instead of cash. Taxis will also be installed with new safety measures such as panic buttons on both the back and the front seats.
In addition, drivers who do not speak a foreign language will be able to contact a call center, where contacts speaking the passenger’s language will be made available.
Yahya Uğur, the president of the Chamber of Istanbul Taxi Drivers, praised the new project, saying it would make the city’s taxis safer for both customers and drivers.
“We had already asked the municipality to get a better system in which customers would feel safe and drivers wouldn’t waste time and fuel while looking for customers,” he said.
Rejecting claims that the new system will place a financial burden on drivers, Uğur said the extra equipment to be installed in taxis will be free of charge. However, he also urged the municipality to consider their demand that the tender be open to more than one firm.