Minister Orders Urban Transport in Israel Restored to Full Force After Holiday

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A bus in Tel Aviv, July 8, 2020.
File photo: A bus in Tel Aviv during the coronavirus pandemic, July 8, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod

Transportation Minister Miri Regev has ordered Israel’s public bus companies to restore full service in the country’s urban areas beginning on Sunday, after the Sukkot and Simhat Torah holidays, sources have told Haaretz.

This represents a reversal of Regev’s decision to reduce public transportation as part of the effort to curb the current spike in coronavirus cases. Word of the decision to restore service came a day after Haaretz reported in its Hebrew coverage regarding the difficulties that the reductions in public transportation had caused to essential members of the workforce as well as weaker segments of the population, endangering their health by requiring them to make use of the limited crowded public transportation services that remained.

As of Monday afternoon, the Transportation Ministry had not officially announced the restoration of service but sources have confirmed that the Public Transportation Authority, which reports to Regev, has informed the transportation companies of the decision, which should restore service in urban areas to almost 100 percent of normal after it was curtailed since the beginning of the current lockdown to 25 percent of the regular schedule. Public transportation will continue to stop running at 8 P.M. even though a large number of essential workers finish work later than that and have no other regular means of transportation.

When it comes to transportation between cities, only a limited increase of intercity buses from the current level of service is expected. Intercity service has been reduced during the week and is currently not running during weekends.

On Sunday, in response to the Haaretz article, the Transportation Ministry said it would increase oversight of buses in an effort to ensure that coronavirus limits on passenger occupancy is observed and that it would also reassess the situation over the course of the week.

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