New player in ferry business is en route

New player in ferry business is en route

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet
Istanbul Fast Ferries (İDO), the Istanbul-based marine firm which has been facing a public reaction recently mainly due to its pricing policy, is close to having a rival for its intercity business. Burulaş, the municipal transport company of Bursa, another northwestern industrialized city on the Marmara Sea, signed a contract Aug. 10 with Istanbul Municipality for the usage rights of a port in central Istanbul.

Bursa Mayor Recep Altepe said Aug. 10 that with the agreement no obstacles remain to keep the company from carrying passengers between Bursa’s Mudanya port and Kabataş on the Bosphorus, as Burulaş is now set to purchase ships as soon as possible.

Bursa Metropolitan Municipality had said June 21 that it had taken action to obtain port permission to transport passengers to Istanbul by establishing a marine transportation enterprise.

İDO, Istanbul’s ferry company, was abusing its monopoly position in marine transport in the Marmara Sea, businessmen and industrialists from Bursa claimed, backing the mayor’s attempt.

The Tepe-Akfen-Souter-Sera consortium won the auction for the privatization of İDO, a former subsidiary of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, with an offer of $861 million in August of last year. In the sale, the municipality kept the intra-city ferry organization and related ports, including the one in Kabataş.

A “flexible” pricing policy initiated by the company at the beginning of the summer drew a negative reaction from consumers, causing the company to step back and return to its conventional pricing scheme.

The Aug. 10 deal was signed by Süleyman Genç, head of the municipality’s existing ferry company, and Burulaş General Manager Levent Fidansoy. Bursa Municipality will initially buy three ferries, two of which will be newly built, Mayor Altepe said.

“We look forward to a good start in marine transportation,” he said. “We want to provide the best quality service for our people at affordable prices by building up an exemplary system.”