How Istanbul Deniz Otobüsleri delivers reliability and comfort

Murat Orhan explains how the Turkish brand is developing itself to meet passenger expectations

How Istanbul Deniz Otobüsleri delivers reliability and comfort
IDO serves 35 million passengers and 11 million vehicles annually on 16 different lines using a total of 49 vessels

By Justin Merrigan |

Born of the sea, Istanbul in Turkey is located next to the Haliç, the Bosphorus, the Princes Islands, the Black Sea and Marmara Sea shores, all of which have made it a hub for sea transportation throughout history. The city possesses a boundless maritime heritage upon which Istanbul Deniz Otobüsleri (IDO) has built its extensive ferry operations. 

IDO started operating in 1987 with two sea buses each offering capacity for 449 passengers. By 1994, the number of sea buses in the fleet had reached 14. Today, IDO serves 35 million passengers and 11 million vehicles annually on 16 different lines using a total of 49 vessels, including five large fast ferries, 24 sea buses and 20 car ferries. It sails from 22 piers in the Marmara Region in northwest Turkey, an area that straddles Europe and Asia across the Sea of Marmara. 

“As İDO, we transport both foot and vehicle passengers from the Anatolian and European sides of Istanbul to Yalova with four fast catamarans,” says Murat Orhan, managing director of IDO. “We also transport foot passengers from both sides of Istanbul to piers such as Bursa, Bandırma, Kumla, Çınarcık, Armutlu, Avşa Island and Marmara Island with sea bus services.  

“In addition, we carry foot and vehicle passengers between Gebze and Yalova using 20 car ferries that operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Sirkeci-Harem line is another line we serve for foot and vehicle passengers between the Anatolian side and the European side of Istanbul. Finally, we have one fast ferry with capacity for 1,000 passengers and 200 vehicles, which is used for zero-kilometre automobile logistics transportation.” 

IDO is one of Turkey’s leading operators, which can be attributed to the fact it takes a dynamic approach to management and delivers customer satisfaction-oriented services. “As the sector leader of ferry transportation in Turkey for more than 35 years, despite many difficulties, we have continued our services without refraining from making any sacrifices,” says Orhan. “We have always acted to involve all our stakeholders in the process of creating common and sustainable value, and we have directed our projects accordingly. 

“Thanks to our experienced staff, IDO offers a reliable and comfortable passenger experience, a positive journey for passengers who are tired and bored of spending time in traffic. Our ferry services allow them to escape the traffic, take a break and travel much more economically than via alternative routes. We are increasing the variety and quality of services we offer to our passengers, including improving food and beverage services onboard our ships and at terminals with products of much more affordable price and quality.” 

IDO has also adapted its services in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. “With the pandemic, the rate of digital conversion has increased so we have grown our investments in digital transformation to minimise contact and meet passenger demands,” says Orhan. “We have developed the İDO Arabalı mobile application, where we can make online sales for our Eskihisar-Topçular and Sirkeci-Harem lines. Passengers can buy a ticket and travel on the day and time of their choice without waiting at the ticket office. The app also provides navigation support, allowing the passenger to see the distance to the nearest pier and determine their quickest route to the terminal.” 

As a company that carries 35 million passengers a year, IDO regularly publishes compelling advertisements outlining the importance of keeping natural environments clean, especially the sea. “Our company goal includes achieving a reduction in the consumption of resources such as electricity and fuel,” says Orhan. “We receive Zero Waste Certificates at our terminals in line with the objectives of protecting aquatic life and climate action. We organise waste management and environmental awareness training for our employees every year and we have activities aimed at raising the awareness not only of IDO employees, but also of our subcontractors and even our passengers.”  

In addition, IDO is working to increase marine sector employment opportunities for women. “We provide internship opportunities to students from universities, colleges and vocational high schools that offer a maritime education in different cities of Turkey,” says Orhan. “Here, too, we give priority to female students when selecting intern students in line with the United Nations’ Women’s Empowerment Principles.”

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Review for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox or your door.

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