April 24, 2011

Istanbul Residents Loyal to Their Old-fashioned Ferries

With a rush of churning water then a jolt, the Karaoglanoglu ferry docks at Karakoy passenger terminal on Istanbul’s European shore and a familiar rite begins.

Selcuk Aral
Young men dart from the waiting room and leap aboard before the gangway is fixed, racing for a prized spot on the benches just above the water.

Parents with children make for the top deck of the 34-year-old ferry, the best place for feeding the flocks of seagulls, which swoop to catch morsels of bread as they fly.

Huge changes lie in store for how the residents of this growing city of almost 15 million people cross the Bosporus Strait, which separates its European and Asian shores.

The government will shortly tender a third Bosporus bridge, expected to bear rail as well as vehicles, and on the seabed giant tubes will encase a privately operated commuter rail link, the Marmaray, and another a twin-deck road.

While these projects will offer speed, convenience and landmark engineering, they are unlikely to capture people’s hearts in the same way as the old-fashioned ferries.

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