After convincing the Transportation Ministry to inaugurate a bus line from Netivot to Tel Aviv, the members of the Young People's Forum in the southern town have embarked on an additional campaign. They are now demanding that the Netivot-to-Be'er Sheva bus make stops not only at Be'er Sheva's central bus station but also at other key locations in the city.
"Students and the many Netivot residents who work and study in Be'er Sheva are not getting an optimal, rapid or efficient transportation solution ... even though it is merely a matter of a 30 kilometer distance" between the cities, say the forum members.
Their transportation woes could be greatly aided, they add, if buses from their hometown stopped at places such as Soroka Medical Center, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the Sami Shamoon College of Engineering and the Atid College campus, and not only at the central bus station as is the case today.
Forum members conducted a survey in which they polled 90 Netivot residents. They found that respondents are not satisfied with their bus routes. They then solicited signatures for a public petition to change the current bus routes. The petition, which was opened for signatures at the beginning of June, was signed by 3,786 inhabitants of Netivot within a month and a half. Netivot's Mayor Yehiel Zohar was among the signatories. They plan to submit it to both the Egged bus company and the Transportation Ministry soon.
Yaron Samimi, who works at the Netivot youth center, said activists "put our heads together" to try to figure out what to do about the reality, as it stands now. "The bus lines from Netivot, a town of about 30,000 inhabitants and more than 8,000 young people and students, do not stop at key and popular points in Be'er Sheva - the nearby capital of the Negev," said Samimi.
"Passengers have to get off at the central bus station and change to local lines. This is a burden on the residents of the western Negev, and a waste of precious time and money. A trip that should take 45 minutes at most sometimes takes as much as an hour and a half."
Samimi said the current bus route interferes with the ability of those who live in Netivot to earn a living or to study. It also "weakens the region and increases the gaps between the Negev and the rest of the country," he said.
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