Cars will begin paying to enter metropolitan Tel Aviv as of 2024, the cabinet decided on Sunday during its discussion of the state budget and the accompanying Economic Arrangements Bill.
Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli voted against the proposal, calling it “a regressive tax.” During discussions with ministry officials, she accused the Finance Ministry of viewing the tax as an additional source of funding for the Tel Aviv metro rather than as a way to ease congestion on the roads.
Under the treasury’s proposal, the fee for entering the metropolitan area will increase as the driver gets closer to the city center, but won’t exceed 37.5 shekels ($11.7). The plan creates three pricing zones, known as rings.
The most expensive zone, the inner ring, would be Tel Aviv's city center. The middle ring will comprise the main roads that lie three to seven kilometers from the boundaries of the inner ring as the crow flies. The outer ring will comprise the main roads seven to 12 kilometers from the inner ring.
The tax was supposed to be in the Economic Arrangements Bill prepared more than two years ago, but was ultimately removed.
The proposal demonstrates how the treasury has become the leading actor in dealing with the transportation crisis, at the Transportation Ministry’s expense. For instance, the current bill states that the exact boundaries of the three rings will be determined by the finance minister.
Drivers who enter the outer ring between 6:30 A.M. and 10 A.M. will pay 10 shekels. If they enter the middle ring, they will be charged an additional 10 shekels, and to enter the inner ring will cost another five shekels.
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Between 3 P.M. and 7 P.M., drivers will pay 2.5 shekels to enter the outer ring, another five shekels to enter the middle ring and an additional five shekels to enter the inner ring.
Exiting the inner ring will cost five shekels, the middle ring another five, and the outer ring 2.5 shekels.
As things stand now, even Tel Aviv residents will have to pay these fees.
Motorcyclists will pay as much as cars pay, while truck drivers will pay double. Buses, shared taxis and emergency vehicles on the job will be exempt from the fee.
The fees will be assessed via cameras that capture when a car crosses into a new ring. Drivers will be able to install a device that enables their cars to be identified, so they can be charged more easily, and since the state wants to encourage them to do so, anyone who installs the device will get a discount. These drivers will pay seven shekels instead of 10, 3.5 shekels instead of five and two shekels instead of 2.5.
To make the tax possible, the government will need to install some 180 gates to hermetically seal off each ring. Each gate will have cameras to photograph the cars as they enter and exit.
The Israel Tax Authority will be responsible for collecting the fees, but the system will actually be run by Netivei Ayalon, a company under the Transportation Ministry’s authority. Netivei Ayalon will be responsible for installing, operating and maintaining the cameras and any other devices needed to collect the fees.