The Transportation Ministry has directed Egged to halt its longstanding practice of allowing visitors to the Kosel to board buses departing the site at the beginning of Motzoei Shabbos without requirement to pay until the next day.
The policy was implemented for years in consideration of the fact that the religious public does not carry money on Shabbos and would otherwise have to walk home. For many people this would mean passing through Damascus Gate, an area best avoided after dark, for safety reasons.
Initially, the directive was to take effect “immediately,” but when it was pointed out that time should be given to notify the public, ministry officials relented and the change will not take place until the Shabbos after Shavuos.
United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman denounced the decision as “very non-Jewish,” against Shabbos and against Judaism’s holiest place. Rabbi Litzman defended Egged’s policy as right and proper and objected to the interference of the Transportation Ministry which will effectively discourage people from going to the Kosel on Shabbos.