YERUSHALAYIM - Egged, Israel’s largest bus company, is facing a major class-action lawsuit by 45,000 disabled Israelis, many of them blind. The lawsuit seeks damages over the failure of the company to implement voice directions and announcements on buses and at stations. The failure of bus drivers to announce stops verbally, and the lack of voice announcements of which bus is pulling up to a bus stop, has caused lost hours and productivity for tens of thousands of Israelis. The plaintiffs are seeking damages of NIS 67.5 million.
The lawsuit is being led by the Justice Ministry’s Authority for Equal Rights. The Authority said that it has received thousands of complaints over the matter. By law, bus companies are required to provide voice instructions. Based on the complaints, it conducted an investigation of the situation, and found that there were over 130 instances in which voice instructions were not given – constituting 38 percent of all buses inspected.
According to the Authority, the problem has been going on for years, and “there is no way to explain the lack of enforcement of and attention to this law, and why the situation has been continuing for so many years. Egged is the biggest and most important bus company in Israel, and everything it does has far-reaching implications. This is the first time we are using a lawsuit of this type to force compliance with the law, and we will continue to employ other methods as needed to ensure that the law is observed.”