The Herzliya city council voted Tuesday in favor of public bus transportation on Shabbat, following the lead of Tel Aviv. Currently only Haifa and Eilat have public bus service on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays.
Last month the Tel Aviv city council asked the Transportation Ministry for permission to run such a service. Yesterday, in a 12-5 vote, the Herzliya council supported limited service on Shabbat along major arteries; this would include the Seven Stars Mall, the city park and the seafront.
Proponents in Herzliya say the move would cut down on air pollution as fewer people use their cars. There would also be less traffic and fewer traffic accidents.
Advocates note that people who are not old enough to drive and adults who have no access to a car are either confined to their own neighborhoods or forced to rely on taxis or rides from others.
The Herzliya municipality currently operates a free summer shuttle service on Shabbat from the city's industrial zone near the sea. A big reason for the service is the parking shortage at the beach.
The Herzliya Shelanu (Our Herzliya ) faction, headed by Mayor Yael German, says the bus plan would give less well-off residents the chance to get to the beach and help solve the parking shortage. Meanwhile, the move would not damage "the character of Shabbat that is important to the Jewish people."
Herzliya Shelanu said the municipality would not fund the wider bus service directly and would approach the Transportation Ministry, which is responsible for public transportation around the country.
When the Tel Aviv city council took its step, the ministry issued a statement noting a decades-old status quo on public transportation on Shabbat. The ministry said it had no intention to change this situation by beginning bus service in Tel Aviv.
Still, the Herzliya municipality says it will approach Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and petition the High Court of Justice if the proposal is rejected.
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