ISTANBUL — The slender waterway separating the European and Asian sides of this metropolis has impressed classical myths and annoyed invading armies for centuries.
But right now drivers touring over the three bridges spanning the picturesque Bosporus usually tend to expertise street rage than nostalgia in a city often known as one of many world’s most congested for visitors.
Now a Turkish entrepreneur is providing a novel answer: a ridesharing app for bikes referred to as Scotty.
Launched in May with only a handful of drivers, Scotty — which prices only a fraction of a taxi experience — now boasts greater than 2,00zero drivers and lately logged 150,00zero rides.
It operates like Uber and Lyft: Enter your location and vacation spot, then choose a experience by tapping a button that claims, “beam me up” – a reference to Star Trek and, therefore, the identify Scotty. (The firm’s emblem is a 4-fingered V – Spock’s “live long and prosper” Vulcan salute).
Scotty’s founder, Tarkan Altan, 33, stated he received the thought after being shocked by Istanbul’s visitors when his household moved to the city from Marmaris on the Turkish coast.
When he helped his father turn into an Uber fleet companion who provides automobiles to the San Francisco-based firm’s drivers, he noticed how time was misplaced between drivers transitioning between shifts. So he began utilizing bikes to save lots of time getting drivers to their automobiles. Eventually, Altan determined to get out of automobiles utterly and bought his personal car to launch Scotty.
“What Uber doesn’t give is time,” he stated. “It gives you luxury, a better performance, a better ride, but it doesn’t change if you are stuck in a Mercedes or a taxi — you’re stuck in traffic.”
Altan stated he will get round Istanbul solely utilizing Scotty. He additionally expresses satisfaction in how Scotty helps locals, whether or not it’s a scholar who was saved from lacking his college entrance examination, a physician who made it to her surgical procedure on time or the chief government who says he’s spending the time he previously wasted in visitors together with his younger son.
Motorcycles, nevertheless, may be dangerous, so Altan stated Scotty is strict about its hiring practices. Drivers should have 5 years of expertise, cross Scotty’s driving exams, take a psychological analysis and convey their bike in for a month-to-month checkup. The drivers are additionally examined on a monitor.
“We are super picky,” he stated. “We accepted only 10% of drivers who applied.”
Despite the larger security danger, many Istanbul residents want his visitors-dodging service. Altan stated he thought ladies could be reluctant to share bikes with a stranger — particularly in a Muslim-majority nation — however he stated 30% of riders are ladies.
Some ladies are drivers, too. Derya Karaosmanoglu, 30, a lawyer who moonlights by driving for Scotty, stated some are stunned to see a feminine driver, however she’s solely had one passenger refuse to experience together with her.
“My motorcycle is bigger than (most) others,” she stated. “Maybe some men are afraid, but after five minutes they feel safe.”
Istanbul officers know visitors of their city is dangerous, they usually’re investing in improved transportation. Last yr, the city opened two main tasks at both finish of the Bosporus Strait: a 3rd bridge and an undersea tunnel.
Those tasks helped Istanbul, with an official inhabitants of almost 15 million, lose its No. 1 spot on the world’s worst cities for visitors, although it is nonetheless listed seventh in GPS-maker TomTom’s annual Traffix Index.
Some residents are preventing the congestion by buying their very own bikes. The head of Turkey’s Motorcycle Industry Association, Bulent Kilicer, stated he expects gross sales to develop by greater than 10% this yr to greater than three million.
Altan’s objective for Scotty is to work with 30,00zero particular person motorcyclists and function in additional Turkish cities.
In the meantime, he feels delight that he’s making this city’s daunting commutes much less painful.
“When there is no traffic during holidays, people say Istanbul is beautiful,” he stated. “So we can make Istanbul really beautiful again.”
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