Sustainable Transportation Lobby Revs Up

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Knesset Sustainable Transportation Lobby has revved up its campaign to promote mass transit in Israel and discourage use of cars, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Citing environmental, economic and social reasons, MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) and MK Yariv Levin (Likud-Beiteinu) launched the lobby on Tuesday.

“It’s time that we leave behind the assumption that transportation occurs only by car — transportation is not only on four wheels,” Zandberg said.

The inaugural meeting of the new lobby was the featured event at the Knesset’s annual Environment Day, one day before the United Nations-sponsored World Environment Day.

In a display of environmental consciousness, both Zandberg and MK Dov Henin (Hadash) arrived at the Knesset by bus, while MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud-Beitenu) rode his bike to work.

Zandberg also pointed out that more use of bicycles and walking will help reduce toxic emissions.

“The issue of public transportation should become a national mission — we must… encourage the government to invest in public transportation,” said Levin, co-founder of the lobby.

“This issue affects employment opportunities, health, accessibility and reaching places of recreation and culture,” Levin argued. “We need to try once again for a breakthrough on this issue.”

At the lobby’s opening session, government officials and representatives of several organizations presented data from recently compiled about the transportation sector.

One report, prepared by the Knesset’s Center for Research and Information, revealed that Israel’s public transportation lags behind other developed countries and even of some developing ones. Investment in public transportation in Israel is 86 percent lower than the global average: 1,400 euros per resident per year as opposed to 10,000 euros per resident per year.

Dr. Arie Wenger, head of the air and energy department at Adam Teva V’Din (Israel Union for Environmental Defense) presented a report that explores the correlation between the reduction of greenhouse gases and the promotion of public transportation in Israel. It said that greenhouse gas emissions from private cars are 60% higher than comparable travel by public transportation.

The report demonstrated that shortening travel time on public transportation by 10% will increase the usage of public transportation by 4%, while a 50% improvement in the frequency of public transportation availability would increase the number of passengers by 25%.

Projections commissioned by the Transportation and Finance Ministries have shown that in the coming years Israel needs to spend about NIS 265b on infrastructure for metropolitan public transportation if it wishes to bridge the gap between it and other developed nations, according to the NGO. Over the span of 25 years, this would amount to about NIS 10.6b per year.