Welcome to our first issue of Network Industries Quarterly Turkey, NIQ-TK in short! From now on, you will find a NIQ-TK every three months!

NIQ-TK is an offspring of NIQ, the Network Industries Quarterly which has been published 4 times a year since 1998! If you have never done so, please check it out at www.network-industries.org.

Several considerations have led us to launch a specific NIQ-TK: for a start, we have launched the Istanbul Center for Regulation (IC4R) in 2019. IC4R is located at Istanbul Technical University, but has an independent board, chaired by the Vice-Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Mr. Alparslan Bayraktar. IC4R aims at developing into the region’s center in matters of regulation and regulatory policies. We look at both to the traditional and the new network industries, namely telecommunications, postal services, transport, energy, water and the newly emerging digital platforms. NIQ-TK will serve as the Center’s main communication tool. As such, NIQ-TK will pursue the same ambition as the Center, namely to create and disseminate policy-relevant knowledge, in other words, linking theory and practice.

In addition, it is obvious that the different network industries, which play such a crucial role in the development of the country and the region are ill known, to say the least. In our view, this is less because the research does not exist, but rather because it scattered and lacks a proper vehicle for dissemination.

This is also why we have launched an ambitious book project covering the regulation of all the relevant network industries in Turkey. The project is well under way and book is scheduled to be published by Springer in 2021. The first three issues of NIQ-TK will actually be written by some of the authors of this book. In doing so, we hope to create a community of experts on the different network industries, in Turkey first and later on reaching out to the region.

As we are still in COVID-19 times, and as transport has been particularly impacted by the pandemic, we wanted to explore, in this first issue, how the various transport modes have held up in Turkey. More precisely, this first issue is composed of four short articles covering Istanbul’s urban transport system (by Umut Alkım Tuncer), railways (Şahin Ardıyok and Evren Sesli), air transport (Ömer Faruk Erol) and intercity coach services (by Ali Osman Solak). While all four sectors, and especially air transport, have been heavily impacted by COVID-19, the four authors also show that the different transport systems proved to be very resilient.

The first contribution, authored by Tuncer, analyses the impact of COVID-19 on Istanbul’s urban transportation system. The most populous city and the economic center of Turkey, Istanbul became the epicenter of the outbreak. Due to intermittent lockdowns, bans on international and intercity travel, closing down of schools and universities, and transition to remote work, the share of the transport modes have shifted and the demand for public transport has dropped. However, the negative effects have been mainly economic. The urban transportation system remained relatively resilient with no noteworthy cancellations in public transport service or disruptions in the infrastructure.

Ardıyok and Sesli examine the liberalization period and the improvements in deregulation process in Turkish railways. They argue that although the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a decreasing trend in passenger transportation, export transportation through railways has seen a high increase. Thus, they discuss the health and structural measures and infrastructural investments being necessitated due to the pandemic, as well as the next steps towards the ultimate aim of creating efficient and cost-effective railways.

Erol examines the Turkish Civil Aviation’s reaction and resilience to COVID-19 from two perspectives: the administrative/regulatory perspective and the private sector. He argues that notwithstanding the negative global effects of the pandemic in air transport sector, Turkish air transport systems remained resilient thanks to the establishment of a sound private sector infrastructure, the correct positioning of the sector with the regulations of the administration and the effective measures taken during the crisis.

Solak discusses how COVID-19 pandemic has led to a new turning point for Turkish Intercity Coach Industry which is the most common mode of intercity passenger transportation in Turkey. The restrictions in early periods of the outbreak brought coach transport to a near standstill. With gradual easing of restrictions, intercity travel demand has increased, but remained in very low levels compared to the pre-COVID-19 period. This situation severely harmed companies’ revenues and operating budgets, despite the falling oil prices. In fact, the medium-long term effects are not certain. Yet, along with the increase in intermodal competition, changes in the travel patterns and mode choices, and reduction in travel demand due to the pandemic are anticipated.
We trust that you will enjoy our first NIQ-TK issue and hope that we will be able to count you as our regular readers in the future.

Deniz Ece Dalgıç Tetikol, managing editor of NIQ-TK

Matthias Finger, professor, İTÜ, and director of the Istanbul Center for Regulation

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