Fri, 24 Sep 2021

by Zeynep Cermen

ISTANBUL, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Sinem Dedetas, head of the Istanbul City Lines, is hopeful that the newly produced sea taxis will help ease traffic chaos in the city.

"One best way to alleviate the traffic in this city is to improve the efficiency of the sea commute with convenient alternatives," Dedetas said.

Surrounded by the Black Sea, the Marmara Sea, and the Bosphorus Strait flowing in between, Turkey's most crowded city Istanbul, with over 16 million people and nearly 5 million registered vehicles, has long been grappling with chronic traffic jams.

The problem grew even more serious during the last year as people avoid commuting on public transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, Dedetas came up with the idea of producing the tiniest sea taxis possible that can access any small inlets or piers of Istanbul's seas. The boats were designed to be 11.95 meters in length and 4.4 meters in width.

Dedetas and her teams aimed to keep the prices low to encourage a large part of the population, including students, to use it. Therefore, they haven't used any intermediary institution and produced the entire pieces domestically in Halic Shipyard, founded in 1455 on the shores of the Golden Horn during the Ottoman era.

Within a short period of time since January, the teams have produced 45 sea taxis, each able to carry ten people at a time.

Commuters will be able to access the taxis individually via an app After six months, the city lines will evolve the practice into a sharing system.

Dedetas noted that more sea taxis can be produced to be used as new school buses for university students in the upcoming period and the two universities have already sent their orders to the city lines.

"But since the boats are newly designed, we have to observe their performances in the water for a while. We may need to make some improvements before proceeding with the requests of the universities," she remarked.

Su Meric, an 18-year-old student of the Kadir Has University on the shores of the Golden Horn, lives in the Maltepe district along the Marmara Sea on the Asian side.

"Imagine the school bus is a sea taxi. I can go to school in a short time by inhaling the fresh sea air without being stuck in the traffic jams," Meric told Xinhua with great enthusiasm.

The city lines make 650 daily trips to connect Istanbul's neighborhoods along the sea, with prices ranging between 4.03 and 6.33 Turkish liras (0.51- 0.75 U.S. dollars), while the use of sea taxis, which are currently very few in number, has long become obsolete.

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