Pop Quiz! What do New Delhi, Istanbul and Port-au-Prince have in common? That’s right. They’re home to the shared taxi, the best bet for getting your family from point A to B without breaking the bank.
Contrary to what the name implies, a Turkish dolmus (DOLE-mush, stuffed) is anything but cramped. In fact, compared to the Indian tap-tap, the Haitian tuk-tuk and the Kenyan matutu, a ride in a Turkish dolmus is relatively tame. You don’t have to hang out windows, worry about your kid bouncing off the truck bed, or share a seat with livestock.
Think you’d like to hop on a dolmus in Turkey? Here’s how:
First, make sure you’ve spotted a dolmus and not a regular taxi. If there’s a placard on the dashboard with a destination – say, Besiktas-Taksim, for example – you’ve found a dolmus. Unlike a regular taxi, a dolmus services a fixed route, hence the placard.
To find out how much the fare is, tell the driver your destination and ask “Ne kadar?” (NAY kadar, how much?).
Climb into a vacant seat. Standard etiquette for a mini-van dolmus is three passengers in the last row, three in the middle row and two up front next to the driver. If it’s a taxi dolmus, only one passenger may ride up front. Beware of unscrupulous drivers who try to flaunt the law and squeeze two people up front.
Paying your fee is a game of relay. Hand your TL (Turkish lira) to the driver or to a passenger in front of you. That person will pass it on to the driver and then pass any change back to you. If you’re traveling in a group, simply multiple the fare by the number of people. For fares and other transactions in Turkey, it’s good to carry small bills and coins.
Say “Dur!” (DER, stop) to signal to the driver when you want to get off.
Keep in mind that for very short distances (3-5 kilometers) it might be cheaper to take a regular taxi. The same rules apply: Tell the driver your destination and ask “Ne kadar?” And make sure the meter’s running before the taxi starts moving!
Safe travels or as they say in Turkey, “Iyi yolculuklar!” (eeyee yole ju look LAR)