Plan to Close Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station Delayed by Four Years

With the original plan to shift operations to the Panorama complex abandoned, some 50 percent of the Central Bus Station's operations will be transferred to new terminals in south Tel Aviv within two years

Ran Shimoni
Ran Shimoni
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The bus terminal at Tel Aviv Central Station, in June.
The bus terminal at Tel Aviv Central Station, in June.Credit: Hadas Parush
Ran Shimoni
Ran Shimoni

Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station will continue to operate for another four years, the Transportation Ministry and Tel Aviv Municipality announced Friday, months after an agreement was reached to shut the complex.

Sources involved in the matter cast doubt that the agreement would be implemented on time, and estimated that activity at the Central Station would continue, even if slightly reduced.  

With the original plan to shift operations to the Panorama complex abandoned, some 50 percent of the Central Bus Station's operations will be transferred to new terminals slated for the Neve Sha'anan neighborhood in south Tel Aviv within two years.  

The neighborhood is about a kilometer and a half (about a mile) from the Central Bus Station, meaning that the pollution caused by it will not be diminished.

A joint statement by the Transportation Ministry and the Tel Aviv Municipality stated that they would "continue to explore further alternatives," and "plans to build alternative bus terminals at the Panorama complex and other locations will be advanced."   

Residents' demonstrate in favor of evacuating the central bus station in Tel Aviv, in August. "The sword is at our throats," says leader Shula KeshetCredit: We the city group

The Transportation Ministry could have ended the contract even without the city’s consent, since it’s the one that pays Nitsba, the firm that operates the station, 18 million shekels ($5.8 million) a year.

But then it would need to scramble to find an alternative by the end of 2023, and ministry sources said the likely disruption of the city’s transportation network would hurt the residents more than leaving the station in place.

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said they would work to create a "modern and state-of-the-art transportation terminal that blends with the area" at the existing station. They also said they would work to reduce pollution by increasing the amount of electric buses at the station and look at creating new terminals.

Michaeli wrote on her Twitter account: "I made a promise and I will keep it. Together with the mayor, my friend Ron Huldai, we agreed on the best way to remove transportation operations from the central station in Tel Aviv. The solution we found for the residents of the city will not harm the transportation needed by the hundreds of thousands who use it, will fix hazards caused by the station and create a cleaner and better environment."

In August, after years of efforts by the public to close the station, the municipality and ministry announced that they had reached an agreement on its closure. Nitsba was supposed to bear parts of the costs in return for the right to do construction on the site.

The municipality had originally proposed other terminals where bus operations could be temporarily moved, the largest of them being the Panorama complex. Huldai recently withdrew the proposal, claiming the scope of the plan for the complex was too large. Additionally, the municipality claimed that the complex where a bus parking lot was to be built was on a nature conservation site, although it is currently a trash site.

The Transportation Ministry could have ordered the municipality to close the station anyway, but officials in the ministry explained that they prefer to avoid unilateral steps.

The Environment Ministry has the authority to declare the station a health hazard, a move that would lead to its closure within six months if no way is found to reduce the level of pollution.

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