Arab towns in the Galil will enjoy better access to the new fast train link to Tel Aviv than originally planned, after a lobbying effort on their behalf secured additional bus lines and changes of existing routes to the train, The Times of Israel reported on Sunday.
The Arab population in the region suffers from high unemployment, and it is hoped that the high-speed link to Tel Aviv and its thriving commercial areas will help northern residents to find jobs.
The 90-minute Karmiel-Tel Aviv line opens next week, along with two new stations, at Karmiel in the northern Galil and Ahihud in the western Galil.
Sikkuy – the Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality, together with MK Dov Khenin (Joint (Arab) List) party and chairman of the Knesset’s subcommittee on public transportation, were credited with getting the Transportation Ministry to make the necessary route changes.
The ministry also announced that all passengers boarding the train at Karmiel station and residents of 15 Arab villages boarding at Ahihud would get free train tickets for three months and a 50 percent discount on tickets for two years.
The 15 villages are: Tamra, Aramshe, Shaab, Abu Snan, Jadida Makar, Arab El Naim, Kfar Yassif, Sheikh Danon, Yarka, Damida, Jules, Yirat, Majed al-Krum, Kaukab Abu al-Hija and Kabul.
“After decades in which Arab citizens were discriminated against in transportation services, the time has come for Israel Railways to be a means of transportation for all of us,” Sikkuy said in a statement.