Suhulet first ferryboat, Ottoman archives say

The name of our first ferryboat is Suhulet, which means ease. The ferry came into use on the Üsküdar-Kabataş route in 1872.
The name of our first ferryboat is "Suhulet," which means "ease". The ferry came into use on the Üsküdar-Kabataş route in 1872.

Istanbul has a rich and long-standing urban culture, including a strong history of public transportation. A recent inquiry of the Ottoman archives proved that the first ferryboat in the world, ‘Suhulet,' was used on the Bosporus

The file compiled from transportation data in the Ottoman archives says that the Suhulet, which was designed by the general manager of Şirket-i Hayriye (Bosporus Steam Navigation Company), Giritli Hüseyin Haki Bey, and said to be the first ferryboat in the world, was used in Istanbul.

An article, "How did our adventure of public transportation begin?" by İbrahim Akın Kurtoğlu, Istanbul's urban transportation historian, was issued in the last volume of Yedikıta Journal of History and Culture. Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Kurtoğlu said that important projects on transportation were conducted during Ottoman times.

Explaining that some of them were among the firsts in the world, Kurtoğlu said: "For example, the first ferryboat in the world was used in Istanbul. General manager of Şirket-i Hayriye Giritli Hüseyin Haki Bey inquired non-stop for innovations to be able to increase the service quality. He designed the prototype for ferryboat himself and ordered it to a boat yard in Britain. It had a special system consisting of a symmetrical entry and exit for vehicles along with a dual system of hatchways. The name of our first ferryboat is Suhulet, which means ease. The mentioned ferryboat came into use on the Üsküdar-Kabataş route in 1872."

Kurtoğlu said that the first public transport in Istanbul was in the Üsküdar and Suriçi districts in 1870.

"In those days, public transport used to be conducted via big coaches similar to today's collective taxis and called omnibus. As they couldn't meet the needs thoroughly, horse carriages were brought into play in 1871. Rapidly promoted by the sultanate, the horse cars first served on the Azapkapı-Karaköy-Beşiktaş route. Attracting great interest from the public, the number of routes was increased within time, reaching up to Ortaköy. The route served with 430 horses and 45 tramways. Offering a comfortable journey thanks to the flat ground, double-story tramways were added to the route. One of these double-story tramways, called Imperial, served men on its second floor and women traveled on the first floor. All the horses working for Dersaadet Tramway Company were bought by the sultanate in return for 30,000 gold coins to be used for the army during Balkan War. The company with no horses in hand got automatically out of the loop. After a short while, the first electric tramway was put into place on the same route in 1913 and 1914," Kurtoğlu said.

First taximeter in 1927

Kurtoğlu said that the first automobile in Istanbul was brought by Züheyrzade Ahmet Paşa in 1908, and private taxis arose thanks to the increase in the number of automobiles.

According to Kurtoğlu, taking their ever-increasing number into consideration, a regulation was planned for taxis.

"Hence, the taximeter system started to be used in taxis in 1927. As their number increased up to 1,000 within a year and the costs got higher, most people couldn't afford them which caused taxis to lose money. In search of a remedy for the issue, taxi drivers settled a new system called "dolmuş," which off only when it is full capacity. While deciding on such a system, taxi drivers intended to serve four passengers who are setting off the same route. What it is costly for one passenger to afford will be easy to afford for four passengers. Increasing in number within time, dolmuş taxis started to serve on new routes with more automobiles in 1932. They became the most popular means of transport in Istanbul within time" Kurtoğlu said.

Afterward, minibuses called "kaptıkaçtı" came into use. The first minibuses in Istanbul started service on the Üsküdar-Beykoz route in the spring of 1947. Transporting passengers to the districts not on autobus routes, those minibuses used to function unscheduled and unlicensed. They expanded their service network adding new routes between Aksaray-Rami, Taksim-Sarıyer, Yedikuke-Bakırköy and Topkapı-Sirkeci. Starting to receive a big share of the transportation market with the population growth after the 1950s, the nine-person-capacity minibuses were formalized by the municipality in 1958.

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