The narrow waterway separating the European and Asian sides of this metropolis has inspired classical myths and frustrated invading armies for centuries.
But today drivers traveling over the three bridges spanning the picturesque Bosporus are more likely to experience road rage than nostalgia in a city known as one of the world's most congested for traffic.
Now a Turkish entrepreneur is offering a novel solution: a ridesharing app for motorcycles called Scotty.
Launched in May with just a handful of drivers, Scotty — which costs just a fraction of a taxi ride — now boasts more than 2,000 drivers and recently logged 150,000 rides.
It operates like Uber and Lyft: Enter your location and destination, then select a ride by tapping a button that says, “beam me up” – a reference to Star Trek and, hence, the name Scotty. (The company’s logo is a four-fingered V – Spock's “live long and prosper” Vulcan salute).
Scotty’s founder, Tarkan Altan, 33, said he got the idea after being shocked by Istanbul’s traffic when his family moved to the city from Marmaris on the Turkish coast.
When he helped his father become an Uber fleet partner who supplies cars to the San Francisco-based company’s drivers, he saw how time was lost between drivers transitioning between shifts. So he started using motorcycles to save time getting drivers to their vehicles. Eventually, Altan decided to get out of cars completely and sold his own vehicle to launch Scotty.
“What Uber doesn’t give is time,” he said. "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 said he gets around Istanbul solely using Scotty. He also expresses pride in how Scotty helps locals, whether it’s a student who was saved from missing his university entrance exam, a doctor who made it to her surgery on time or the chief executive who says he’s spending the time he formerly wasted in traffic with his young son.
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