Beginning Sunday, police will begin handing out summonses to lone drivers on Road 2 who travel in the carpool lane. Police said they would be out in force to ensure that only vehicles with two or more people in them were using the lane, and that violators could expect to be pulled over and given a NIS 500 fine. Under the program, one lane on Road 2 (the Coastal Road) is reserved for vehicles with two or more occupants. Buses and taxes can use the lane as well.
The carpool lane program began three weeks ago, and has been the subject of much debate, with drivers complaining that it has only made traffic worse. Traffic has been backed up for kilometers, and many drivers say their commuting time to and from Tel Aviv has increased significantly. The problem seems especially acute in the Netanya area, with many drivers saying that it takes them an hour to get past the city.
To ease the situation, Transportation Minister Betzalel Smotrich said in an interview that new parking lots and shuttle buses to Tel Aviv would be available beginning this week. Thousands of parking spaces will be available in the Netanya area, where drivers will be able to park and take a subsidized bus ride into Tel Aviv, and then back to their vehicle when they finish work. Several new bus lines would also begin operating, he said.
Smotrich said that “statistics tell us that there has already been a significant improvement in the situation, and not just in the Netanya area. This was confirmed by the mayor of Netanya, who told me that she noticed an improvement as well. The additional resources we are putting into the program will further improve the situation.”
According to OECD figures, Israelis tend to travel alone in their vehicles more than residents of other countries. The average car trip for Israelis has 1.2 occupants in a vehicle, while the OECD average is between 1.6 and 1.8 occupants per vehicle.