Istanbul Boosts Options For Ferry Travel, Its Most Beautiful and Relaxing Way to Commute


Istanbul residents living along the Bosphorus will soon find it easier to commute by ferry. Photo: Jennifer Hattam.

Every time I'm on a bus inching its way along the shore road beside Istanbul's Bosphorus Strait, a street often so packed with traffic that it's faster to walk than ride, I ask myself the same thing: Why the heck doesn't the city run ferry services on this route? Now, Istanbul is finally starting to take a step in that direction.

Though ferries are classic symbols of Istanbul, and a popular -- and exceedingly pleasant -- way for central-area commuters to cross between the city's Asian and European sides, seafaring traffic up and down the Bosphorus has sadly been the sole province of tankers and tourist cruises, despite the presence of many ferry-sized docks on both sides of the strait. People who wanted to avoid the landlocked traffic had just one option: a single one-way ferry, weekdays only, heading down into the central city in the morning, and back up to the Bosphorus villages in the early evening.

More Ferries Promised In Future
At last, the city has announced that it will open two new routes, as of Tuesday, paralleling the coast on both sides of the strait, between Sarıyer and Kabataş on the European side and between Beykoz and Üsküdar on the Asian side. Though it's just two round-trips a day on each side, the municipality has promised it will expand the service if the demand is there.

"I believe that people will prefer these two routes to avoid traffic jams on both sides of the strait and have a more comfortable trip," Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş said recently. "We will work on new docks, if that is necessary."

The move is part of an ongoing, and heartening trend, to improve conditions for public-transportation commuters in the ever-growing city. Almost 40 new cars are being added to two popular tramway routes in the central city, reducing the wait between trains to as little as two minutes.

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Tags: Boats | Cities | Commuting | Public Transportation | Turkey | Urban Life