Tolls hiked for Istanbul’s Eurasia Tunnel
Tolls have been hiked for passage through the Eurasia Tunnel, the first ever road tunnel connecting Europe and Asia underneath the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, according to ATAŞ, the company that operates the tunnel.
The hiked prices went into effect on July 1, according to a statement issued on the ATAŞ website on June 30.
As a result of the rise, the one-way toll for passenger cars has increased to 23.3 Turkish Liras ($5.08) from 19.2 liras, while the toll for minibuses has been hiked to 34.9 liras ($7.6) from 28.8 liras.
This has been the second increase in tolls for the tunnel.
In February, the one-way toll for passenger cars originally increased to 21 liras from 16.6 liras, while the toll for minibuses has been hiked to 31.5 liras from 24.9 liras. In the face of criticism from the public, the Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ministry decreased the value-added tax (VAT) on tunnel passages from 18 percent to 8 percent and toll hikes were then updated to 19.2 liras and 28.8 liras for passenger cars and minibuses, respectively.
The tunnel, which is the deepest double-road tunnel in the world, opened on Dec. 20, 2016. The state guarantee had foreseen that 25.6 million vehicles would use the tunnel per year, but fewer than 10 million vehicles used the tunnel last year, leaving the government liable to pay the difference for the missing 15 million vehicles.
The tunnel, which cost $1.25 billion, is due to be operated by ATAŞ for 24 years and five months. The project was carried out under a build-operate-transfer (BOT).
Almost $1 billion of the amount was provided through international loans, while the remaining amount was financed by Yapı Merkezi and SK E&K, which are the two equal shareholders in ATAŞ.
The tunnel, linking Kazlıçeşme on Istanbul’s European side and Göztepe in Asia, aims to reduce chronic traffic congestion in Turkey’s most populous city.