MK: Builders Need to Ensure Bus Service for New Neighborhoods

YERUSHALAYIM -
Construction of new residential buildings in the Northern Israeli city of Harish. Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Flash90
Construction of new residential buildings in Charish. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) wants to put an end to the phenomenon of isolated suburbs that require people to have cars in order to move there. She is pushing a bill that will require builders to take responsibility for ensuring that new neighborhoods they build will have access to public transportation.

The law would be an expansion of current planning requirements. Currently, builders are required to examine the effect of their project on the surroundings and prepare an environmental impact statement, and Zandberg’s law would have them do something similar in transportation, developing an impact statement that will analyze how much worse traffic will get in an area, and arranging for public transportation to lessen that impact.

Zandberg said that tens of thousands of homes are being planned, but the only thing builders are required to take into consideration is the number of parking spaces convenient to homes. Zandberg’s law would require expanding that to considering the impact of a project on traffic, as well as on pedestrians and even bike riders.

More-affordable home prices in peripheral areas have been attracting Israelis to buy homes in formerly far-flung places, but along with a house, young couples who move to these places have to buy cars, as that is the only way for them to get to their jobs in the Tel Aviv area. According to many studies, said Zandberg, effective and convenient public transportation could induce many of these people to leave their vehicles at home.

“Israel is one of the most crowded countries in the world, but planning for residential areas and industrial zones does not take into consideration how the average person will get to or from these places,” Zandberg said. “Public transportation is important to many groups who are usually not taken into consideration by builders, including youths, students, soldiers, women, the elderly and those who cannot afford to buy vehicles,” she added.