Low Cost Transportation Plan to Go Into Effect Everywhere

Areal view of city bus parking lot and elections campaign posters in Jerusalem, March 13, 2015. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** צילום אויר מבט מלמעלה ירושלים תחנה מרכזית חניון אוטובוסים קמפיין בחירות
Areal view of city bus parking lot in Yerushalayim. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

A test plan that saw the reduction of fees for public transportation in Israel’s four largest cities has proven to be a success and will now be expanded to the rest of the country, the Transport Ministry announced Wednesday. The price reform is set to go into effect beginning April 1.

The plan breaks up the country into four “transportation hubs,” centered on Yerushalayim, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Be’er Sheva. Commuters can buy daily, weekly, or monthly all in one transportation tickets for each center, allowing them to travel within each hub without needing to open their wallets each time they get on a bus or train. Each hub will be broken up into three zones, with overall prices for the commute determined by the distance from the zone center.

Thus, a resident of Beit Shemesh will “belong” to the Yerushalayim zone, with their city located in Zone 3 outside Yerushalayim. A commuter from Beit Shemesh to Yerushalayim will buy a Zone 3 ticket that will allow them unlimited transportation anywhere within the three zones into and out of the city. The Beit Shemesh resident will be able to travel to and from their job in Jerusalem by bus, and once inside the city they will be able to get around town via the light rail, all on a single daily, weekly, or monthly commuter ticket.

With the zoning policy comes a dramatic cut in the cost of public transportation as well, with commuting prices to be cut by as much as half for many commuters from outlying communities. For example, an Ashdod resident who currently pays NIS 574 monthly to get to Tel Aviv by train will pay 40 percent less, or NIS 350 for a monthly ticket that will let them get to work by train, bus, or any combination thereof.

When the the plan was first enacted on January 1st, it encompassed 70 per cent of Yerushalayim public transportation commuters, said Transport Minister Yisrael Katz. Now, the program will include all bus and train riders throughout Israel, he told a press conference Tuesday.

“The program will save residents throughout Israel, including and especially in the periphery, hundreds of shekels a month,” said Katz. “Families will be able to save thousands of shekels a year. This is a a step that will significantly contribute to the reduction of the cost of living in Israel.”

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