Our first 'port' of call is Bodrum in Turkey. Driver J.J.
Porter was in Bodrum last year and he wrote a piece for the website on his experience using public transport
in Bodrum. J.J. has also kindly supplied a couple of photographs to demonstrate what it's like at the Bodrum bus terminii.
To see Bobby Ward's account of Public Transport in Malta, click
on the link below.
'Malta Public Transport' pics and text, by Bobby Ward
BULGARIAN PUBLIC TRANSPORT by JJ PORTER
"An impression of the local bus services
in the Bodrum Peninsula of Turkey", by driver J.J. Porter.
If you find yourself holidaying in Turkey, an unmissable
experience to be had is to travel by the local bus service in your resort, which is called the 'DOLMUS'. This little bus service
can be found in most parts of this lovely country and is essential to the Turkish way of life. It has become synonymous with
Turkey rather like the Shamrock has with Ireland. I was based in Bodrum and used this method of public transport
to explore this region.
|NOW LET'S SEE...WHICH BUS WILL I TAKE?
Bodrum, located strategically, is the hub of the region
with all traffic passing through its centre. The town's bus station is conveniently located here. I would say that
the station is a little bit bigger than my own garage at Conyngham Road. The station has a restaurant, shops and toilet facilities.
DOLMUS'S to various destinations are located all around the bus yard.
Passengers can board the bus even
before the driver arrives. The front seat beside the driver is usually reserved, I noticed quite often, for special clients,
(i.e. good looking women). Timetables are displayed both in the station and at each terminus via a blackboard. Although if
the driver has "chalky" fingers you could guess that the timetable may have been altered!!! The buses are not controlled by
an inspector through a radio link as is the case in Dublin. One disadvantage of that for the drivers is that there is nobody
to pass on the soccer results!!! It is interesting to note that the bus routes are owned by the Government and that the routes
are franchised to companies and even individual drivers. Part of the franchise fee goes towards maintaining the excellent
facilities at the terminii and stations.
|THE BUS IS FULL...BUT WHERE'S THE DRIVER?
I observed the bus driver doing 70+ mp.h. on one of
my trips, even though some of the passengers were members of the "Polis"!!! At other times the speed rapidly decreased along
the beaches as certain scantily clad ladies appear on the beach fronts. I thought for one moment the driver was checking
his mirrors until I realsied what he REALLY was looking at.
You can stop a DOLMUS anywhere along the route. After greeting the driver with
"merhaba" (which is Turkish for 'hello'), you take your seat. The price of your journey is displayed on a sign above the driver.
But how do you pay? Well you hand your fare to the passenger in front of you and he/she in turn hands YOUR fare to the person
in front of them and so on until it finally reaches the driver. If you didn't hand up the correct fare the driver searches
around in his cashbox (i.e. a shoebox - it's true) and gives the change to the person behind him until it arrives back eventually
Now Turkish bus drivers regard themselves highly and receive preferential treatment
on the road, whether you want to give them special treatment or not. On one of my journeys I thought someone had superglued
the drivers hand to the 'horn', he had it pressed for so long. I'd recommend earplugs for some journeys. Old aged pensioners,
as far as I know travel free. The lady pensioners get on the bus nice and quietly whereas the gentlemen pensioners seem to
have a prolonged debate with the driver before they take their seats. They also nearly always offer to pay their fares, which
I'm delighted to say is refused by the drivers.
In fairness to the drivers, the tourist season is really only the time that they
can make a decent living. For the rest of the time driving there are hardly enough passengers to make a weeks wages. So, I
for one, can understand why they speed around so much during the tourist period to do so many journeys.
In conclusion, I'd recommend public transport in Turkey. At times it can be hectic
but on the 'upside' the views around the beaches are fantastic, if you know what I mean.
|THE DRIVERS CANTEEN
|PASSENGERS REST OUTSIDE.
By the way, the drivers canteen, pictured in the photograph on the left, is not as bad as
it may first appear. It has a fridge and microwave and facilities to make tea etc. Passengers are not allowed into the
canteen and they wait patiently outside for when the driver is ready. I'm sure in time, drivers and passengers facilities
will improve but don't forget that they have a constant flow of sunshine to keep them occupied so the wait isn't as bad as
it may appear.
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