Drivers in Jerusalem are going to have to shell out less cash to park in the capital city in coming months. The Jerusalem city council has voted unanimously in favor of a pilot project that will cap the cost of parking in the municipal parking lots scattered around the city.

Under the new rule, a person will not pay for more than three hours of parking, regardless of how long the car remains in the lot. This means that the maximum amount someone will pay to park in a municipal lot would be NIS 16.50 per day. In contrast, parking for a day in Tel Aviv - whose municipality has an unspoken but long-standing competition of sorts with Jerusalem's municipality - is likely to cost nearly NIS 100.

Four municipal parking lots are part of the pilot project: the lot that is part of the old train station complex on Derech Hebron Street, the lot at the Liberty Bell Garden, the lot in the Schneller complex downtown and the lot on Hata'asiya Street in Talpiot.

Deputy Mayor Yosef Doytsch (United Torah Judaism ) and Didi Hershkovitz (Yerushalayim Beiteinu ), a council member who holds the transportation and parking portfolio at the municipality, have been working on the initiative for nearly 10 months.

"As of now you cannot park in the municipality's public lots for more than three hours without having to take out a new parking ticket," explained Doytsch. "That means those who work in certain areas cannot park their cars in these municipal lots; it would cost too much money.

"We received many appeals, both from people who work downtown and from people who shop there, who said [the parking situation] has become a burden. We want to encourage people to come to these places. So in the first phase of our project, we've taken four parking lots in Jerusalem and said that anyone can buy a full-day ticket and park inexpensively. If your workday is nine hours, you will only pay for three."

Doytsch says the road to this inexpensive parking was fairly bumpy. "There were a lot of land mines along the way. The legal bureau, for example, asked why we chose those lots in particular. We had to get the approval of the Parking Authority, which said to us, 'You are reducing our income.' Then there was a battle in the transportation committee and finally came the council meeting."

Mayor Nir Barkat's support for the pilot project improved its chances of leaping over that last hurdle, and it passed unopposed at a council meeting earlier this month.

"This is something that should provide a solution to the need for longer-term parking," said Hershkovitz.

The proposal must still be approved by the Ministry of the Interior before it is implemented. That is expected to take about four months, but the two council members who initiated the project expect that it will happen. "There isn't a municipal regulation that doesn't get the approval of the Interior Minister, unless it is really crazy," said Doytsch.