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Travel on Highway 6 - the Trans-Israel Highway - becomes more expensive on Monday, with prices jumping 14 percent to 28 percent 18 months after Israel's first toll road was inaugurated. The new tariff was approved by the Finance and Transportation ministries.

Effective Monday, a passenger car traveling up to three sections of Highway 6 will be charged NIS 14.50.

For Passkal subscribers, who attach an electronic identifier to their vehicle, the price of travel will rise to NIS 8.32. The updated rate for video subscribers is NIS 11.41.

The Trans-Israel Highway Company, which manages the project on behalf of the state, said on Sunday that the price increase was unavoidable, explaining that it was calculated according to a mechanism defined in the contract signed five years ago with the road's concessionaire, Derech Eretz Highways.

According to Yehuda Cohen, director-general of the Trans-Israel Highway Company, the large price increase is a one-time adjustment to cover interest rate differentials during the construction period.

From now on, he explained, the tariff will be updated every six months and only minor increases are anticipated during the coming years.

Road usage rising steadily

Derech Eretz reports that the number of drivers using the toll road has steadily increased at a monthly pace of 8 percent to 10 percent, and now reaches an average of 63,000 on weekdays. Some 70,000 vehicles traveled the highway last Thursday.

The CEO of Derech Eretz, former police commissioner Yehuda Wilk, said that even after the price hike, the toll road remains one of the least expensive in the world.

He noted that the fines for late payments will not be raised, and the cost of Passkal and video subscriptions will also remain unchanged.

Wilk said that he does not expect the price increase to significantly affect the number of drivers choosing to use the highway.

Perhaps commercial vehicles will consider the additional price when calculating whether to use the toll road, he suggested, but the average private user spends only about NIS 50 per month on Highway 6, so the price increase will just add a few shekels to his bill.

In any case, a Passkal subscriber who decides to stop using Highway 6 can return the electronic device and receive a full refund of his deposit, the former police chief said.