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Taxi Times International - June 2015 - English

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TAXI FARES TAXI FARES THE JEST WELCOMES DISABLED PASSENGERS Most of the Dolmus vehicles in Istanbul bear the logo of the Turkish manufacturer Karsan. Now it wants to conquer the European market with the ‘Jest’, the latest generation of its minibuses. It has even opened a sales office in Italy. A wheelchair ramp is integrated into the vehicle and the interior is equipped with support rails so that the Jest can accommodate wheelchair users. It also has WiFi reception. jh FLEXIBLE MINIBUS LINES AS A BUSINESS MODEL In Turkey, there is another form of public transport in addition to buses and taxis: the Dolmus lines. Its basic concept could be adapted in other countries as a new business area for taxi companies. to get off, they tell the driver. Payment is collected by the driver. Dolmus lines operate everywhere in Turkey, with 137 lines in Istanbul alone (approx. 18 million inhabitants). These lines are approved by the Istanbul transport authority. What’s more, the contract was awarded by tendering. The owners of such lines are usually company associations structured in a similar way to cooperatives. Each of the buses has its own permit, and one permit is allowed per person. In Istanbul, 6,361 minibus permits have been authorised. The lines do not follow fixed bus schedules. Minibuses with a seating capacity of up to 16 passengers (and standing room at peak times) operate between 5:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. according to demand. A somewhat more expensive and premium option is the Mini Dolmus, which seats up to eight pas- TAXI IS PUBLIC TRANSPORT In many regions of the world, taxi is public transport. In large parts of Africa, South-America and Asia the semiformal shared taxi system, using owner-operated vehicles between 4-6 seaters and 21 seater minivans, is the backbone of public transit using both cash and card-based payment systems. Systems like Marshrutkas, Jeepneys, Taxi Colectivo, Sherut and Shuttle have, since the start of the motorised taxi, had US and European equivalents in Shared Taxi, Jitneys, Traintaxi, Paratransit and many similar systems. They are now showing the way to servicing rural areas where regular public transport is getting too costly. wf Proud Dolmus drivers in Istanbul T he Turkish expression ‘Dolmus’ translates as ‘it is filled’. The meaning is twofold, because not only are the minibuses of the Dolmus lines usually well filled, they also work to ‘fill the gap’ between traditional taxis and metrobuses. They mainly serve shorter routes and stay within the limits of a given city. They are more expensive than bus or rail transport, yet cheaper than taxis. But the real advantage is that Dolmus is extremely flexible. Although the lines operate on planned routes, passengers can get on or off at any time. Passengers wanting to board the bus need only wave it down from the side of the road. If they want PHOTOS: Taxi Times, Karsan PHOTOS: Taxi Times, Karsan »In Istanbul, Dolmus is not a competitor, but a service to fill the gap between metrobus and taxi« sengers (standing is not permitted). The more passengers come on board during a route, the more profitable the ride. The advantage in Istanbul is that local public transport services have been unable to keep up with the rapid population growth in the city. Dolmus is therefore not a competitor, but a service needed to fill the gap between metrobus and taxi. Many European cities and municipalities do not have such a need for the moment. Nearly all of them have a dense public transport network but these are only financed through high municipal subsidies. Why not reduce the expensive, inflexible transport lines and then plan and approve flexible minibus lines (under the condition that only vehicles with environmentally-friendly engines are used) that are managed and operated by the taxi trade? An advantage would be that, during offpeak times, the vehicles and their drivers could be used as taxis or for other special trips (school transport, patient transport, etc.). A mixed calculation could be based on this variable deployment that would allow attractive prices to be set for the minibus lines, which would then not need subsidies from financially weak municipalities. jh Yellow Dolmus are the luxury buses, on which you always get a seat. Taxi Times visited Sami Sahin, the head of the Dolmus line ‘Istanbul Minibüscüler Esnaf Odasi Baskan Vekili’ 10 TAXI JUNE / 2015 11

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