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The Dolmuş


Ken Grubb
  • Learn about how to use a dolmuş, the "shared taxis" which ply the streets of most Turkish cities and towns.

Dolmuşes at a dolmuş stop in Alanya, Turkey.Somewhere between a bus and a taxi is the Dolmuş (dohl-moosh), a kind of "shared taxi" which has characteristics of both. It's a cheap and easy way to get around--from your hotel to a nearby beach--or from your home to work.

By all means get over any reluctance to ride one for the first time. Once you take your first dolmuş ride you'll probably use them as a regular means of transportation, and probably wonder why they don't have them in your own country.

Although cars are sometimes be used for this purpose, 12-passenger mini-bus dolmuşes are the norm. The word "dolmuş" means "stuffed." It recalls the days when dolmuşes were overcrowded with passengers, many of them packed in the aisle with little or no room to move. Laws now require dolmuşes to carry only the number of passengers they can properly seat.

A dolmuş runs a fixed route from origin to destination, with regular stops along the way as indicated on a placard on the windshield. Regular dolmuş stops are marked with a sign, bearing a white "D" on a blue background. They usually don't work on a time schedule. If you miss one, another will probably be along in about 20 minutes.

Boarding a Dolmuş

Dolmuşes congregate at a garaj, which is usually an open parking lot. They wait until they have a few passengers, and then start their route. You can catch one at the garaj or waive one down anywhere along its route. Waive at the driver, and he will pull over and stop, traffic permitting. To make sure you're getting on the correct one, look for a placard in the windshield which displays its destination(s).

Paying the Fare

Dolmuş fares are set by the municipality. The fare is much less than a taxi, usually around 5TL. You can pay as soon as you board, or you can sit down and pass the fare to a passenger in front of you. The passengers will pass it to the driver. If you have change coming, they will pass it back to you the same way.

Getting Off at Your Stop

When the Dolmuş comes to a place where you want to get off, say inecek var (ee-neh-jek vahr), which means "there is one to get off." If you are new to the area and don't know which stop you need, you can tell the driver what hotel you're staying in or where your final destination is, and he'll let you know when your stop comes up.

Operating Hours

Dolmuşes usually operate during daylight hours. During the summer, in tourist areas, they may operate until midnight.

Inter-city Buses

Although not officially a "dolmuş," there are larger short-haul mini-buses which run routes between nearby towns, beaches or sights, either for a company or a cooperative between the two towns. They usually depart from the bus station, and have a set schedule and fare, but unlike long-haul inter-city buses, they may also pick up passengers who signal them along the way.


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