ISTANBUL - As the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality phases out akbils, a pre-paid public transport pass, and puts into circulation the new "Istanbul Kart," bus drivers are benefiting from the spare change they receive from passengers who pay cash, daily HaberTürk reported yesterday.
Unlike dolmuş drivers, bus drivers are slower in giving back change; they have special drawers on their left side to put the money they gain. The drivers use their akbils for passengers who do not have one. That is how they make profit. This implementation was once canceled, but was recently reinstated because it is harder now to purchase an akbil.
No more akbils produced
The chaotic situation with akbils has arisen because of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s new project. The municipality is producing the "Istanbul Kart" and wants people use it Ğ which is why there are not many akbils sold.
According to municipality employees, akbil production has already stopped. They can be found only at a few kiosks in the Karaköy district.
The late implementation of Istanbul Kart is profitable for İETT drivers. Now the drivers of the İETT’s 2,841 buses use their akbils for their passengers.
The drivers are quite happy about being able to use their akbils for passengers who have neither an akbil nor a new Istanbul Kart. Just like dolmuş drivers, bus drivers have started acquiring ornamented coin trays. Among the thousands of passengers, at least 200 of them do not have akbils.
This means 40 liras of extra income per day, which calculates to 1,000 liras per month. This is the face value of the situation. According to the claims, the İETT drivers make deals with the akbil offices to pay for student akbils, which are cheaper and the drivers’ gains climb to 5,000 liras. The İETT driver, with an average income of 2,500 liras, earns 8,000 liras per month.
Yet, the drivers dealing with passenger payment create danger in traffic. According to authorities, a vehicle as big as İETT buses should have an officer to receive the payments to shorten the time getting on the bus and to avoid having the bus wait at one stop for too long.
Municipality authorities think the problems will be solved when the Istanbul Kart becomes widespread. Passengers will be able to use the new pre-paid public transport pass, which looks like a credit card, on buses, the metro and ferries.