Taxi Protest Brings Yerushalayim-Bound Traffic to a Crawl

An Israeli taxi with roof insignia. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Upset at a change in how fares are measured, taxi drivers on Sunday morning conducted a “slow drive” protest on their way to a demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Yerushalayim.

Traffic was backed up and the going was slow as taxi drivers drove at well under the speed limit on Road 1, the main highway into Yerushalayim, with hundreds converging onto a convoy that began in Tel Aviv – slowing down everyone else on the road, as well.

The problem, a spokesperson for the drivers told Channel 12, was a change in the meter prices for rides. Beginning in 2020, drivers are required to buy and install new meters that will include different fare rates for local and inter-city trips. According to the Transportation Ministry, the new fare structure will reduce the cost of the latter by 6.7%, while increasing the price of local rides by 13%.

Based on those figures, the income of drivers will not be negatively affected, as most of their rides are local. But drivers claim that the Ministry’s figures are incorrect, and that they will end up earning less money on both kinds of rides – especially inter-city rides, which drivers claim will cost 30% less under the new scheme. As far as local rides are concerned, drivers claim that the cost estimate is based on drivers traveling at least 50 kilometers per hour – a near-impossible feat in the Tel Aviv area.

As drivers from the Tel Aviv area joined the protest, competition grew in the city itself for taxis, of which there were significantly fewer on the road Sunday morning. Ministry officials urged riders to be patient and to consider alternatives, like public transportation, where possible.