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Istanbul's Taxi Service Set to Get Integration Overhaul

December 22, 2014

The idea of getting a cab, from one place to another, is one that involves a variety of different facets. Some think about the use of a smartphone app to call in a ride, while others simply hearken back to the days of hiding under a newspaper in the rain while frantically waving an arm and shrieking “Taxi!” at the top of one's lungs. Modernization efforts have been at play in a variety of places, but Istanbul is perhaps one of the most recent such efforts, as the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has launched a new initiative designed to integrate all taxis in the city over the course of the next two years.

Reports suggest that the system will start with just 100 taxis, but by the time New Years' 2017 arrives, the initiative is hoped to expand to all 18,000 vehicles currently used as cabs in the city. When the integration is complete, reports note, the taxis involved will all come equipped with panic buttons that send warnings back to a centralized facility known as the Taxi Call Center, as well as to the police outright. That's a great step on its own, but far from the only; reports also suggest that the taxi systems will include navigation systems so passengers can tell that there's no cheating going on in the cab ride. Plus, information will be provided in several languages relevant to the region, including Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Spanish.

This might not sound like a great deal for the cab companies, but even drivers will benefit under this new program, according to reports from the head of Istanbul's parking lots Mehmet Cevik, who expected that cabs will be able to do nearly double current volume—going from between 20 and 22 passengers a day to 40 under the integrated service—and will also see lower total fuel costs as consumption drops, which has the further benefit of greener driving. Meanwhile, getting a cab will likewise be easier; users will need only to call into one number—134, specifically—and will be in turn connected to the closest available taxi, and customers will be directed to the nearest taxi stop to wait therein.

This actually sounds similar to what's being done in Qatar, as public transport company Mowasalat looks to offer up a one-number contact for getting a taxi, and is bringing together all the independent taxi firms around to get such a program going. While it may not be the greatest idea to those who believe that the various firms involved should operate as said firms see fit, there are some clear advantages to this kind of unification. The reduced gasoline, the increased business, the increased ease in terms of just getting a cab in the first place; all of these are on the table when it comes to such a program, and that's hard for most any company to really pass up. Recently, there were also reports of Istanbul taxi drivers offered English language courses to help shore up cab use in the country, showing that this new measure is simply part of an overall initiative to make getting, and taking, a taxi in the country easier overall.

There's always a certain value in streamlining procedures, and reducing the amount of labor necessary to get from the start of the transaction to the end. Istanbul's taxi industry is likely to see that value itself in the very near future, and that's an idea that's hard to pass up.

Edited by Maurice Nagle