Local authorities in Tel Aviv have agreed to provide free public transportation on Shabbat, connecting Israel’s cosmopolitan hub with surrounding cities.
The announcement this week from the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality follows an agreement reached with neighbouring municipalities such as Ramat HaSharon, Givatayyim, and Kiryat Ono.
Hailed as an “unprecedented” system, buses will operate on weekends during hours when public transport is normally unavailable. It will be free and open to all in its initial phase, at a cost to the taxpayer of £2.7 million per year.
“This is the newest addition to existing weekend transport including the Sherut taxis organised by the Ministry of Transportation and the shared municipal initiatives such as AutoTel and Tel-O-Fun,” said Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai.
“It will provide a solution to the public’s demand for transportation throughout the weekend, contributing to lowering the cost of living, alleviating transportation and parking problems and giving mobility for residents who don’t own a car.”
Authorities said the budget would grow as other cities joined the venture, connecting up to four million metropolitan residents.
The intercity network will consist of seven bus lines covering the Tel Aviv Metropolitan area. Frequencies, routes and schedules will be communicated to users via the common transport apps before the end of the year.
“Transportation plays a major role in social justice if it offers equal mobility, 24/7 for the entire population, including those who don’t own a private car or have a driver’s license,” said deputy mayor Meital Lehavi. “The highlight of this project is the cooperation between the authorities.”