Lag BaOmer Transit Plans in Dispute

YERUSHALAYIM -

Organizers of the annual Lag BaOmer gathering at Meron are warning that police plans for routing traffic to and from the site could end in chaotic conditions, hardship and disappointment for thousands of visitors and their families.

In an effort to prevent a repeat of the massive bottleneck and delays of last year, police have ordered that private buses will not be allowed to arrive at the site itself but must park instead at Ein Hozim and Safsufa, locations far from the kever of Rabi Shimon bar Yochai.

But rather than relieve the traffic jams and facilitate access to the site, organizers say it will cause many people an unnecessary trek and the further inconvenience of finding and boarding a shuttle, and discourage others from making the trip at all. Some voiced the suspicion that that is actually what the police want to do, and that many will stay home.

Instead, it is being suggested that only private cars be kept at a distance, which could ease traffic congestion, but allowing private bus companies regular access along with Egged. With a week to go before the event, there is still time, they say, for the police to rescind the ban.

Adding to the challenge of bringing hundreds of thousands to Meron from all over the country is the decision of Education Minister Shai Piron to make Lag BaOmer a regular school day. This means that many school buses which could otherwise be used to transport people to Meron, as in past years, will be unavailable.

Chareidi Knesset members have called for an urgent meeting of the Interior Committee for Monday to discuss the situation and to consider alternate plans for transportation.