TA Plan: Free Buses on Shabbos, Paid For by Taxpayers

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The Tel Aviv Municipality plans to run buses on Shabbos, lo aleinu – and use taxpayer funds to pay for it, business daily TheMarker said Thursday. The city plans to hold a tender for a private operators of at least five lines, which the city will subsidize out of its own funds.

Blue and White number two and potential Prime Minister Yair Lapid praised the plan, saying that “the day will not be long when the government will fully support such efforts.” Religious taxpayers will be required to pay for the plan, as will secular taxpayers.

Under the plan, bus lines will be run throughout the city, from its northern neighborhoods such as Tel Baruch, Ramat Aviv, Ramat Hachayal, and others, through the center of town and to its southern quarters, including Yafo, Yad Eliyahu and Kfar Shalem.

According to the report, the lines will make buses available to some 80% of Tel Aviv’s population, who will have access to a bus not more than 600 meters from their homes.

The bus rides will be free, and the initial plan allows for anyone to get on or off a bus at will. With that, the city will have the option to limit the service to Tel Aviv residents, who would have to show their local residency cards to get on. The city hopes to recruit other municipalities in the Dan area, extending the lines to cities such as Holon, Bat Yam, Rishon LeTzion, Herzliya, and others. Officials expect the project to cost about NIS 12 million a year, fully funded from local taxes.

The plan is similar to one that had been instituted in Ramat Gan. However, that project was shelved after there was little response on the part of the public.

“I congratulate Ron Huldai and the city of Tel Aviv for its Shabbos bus project,” Lapid said. “This is not an anti-religious act, but something that will allow even a grandparent without money to visit their grandchildren and take them to the beach.”