Rockets and Reservists Put a Crimp on Bus Service

What public transportation can still run normal schedules is overwhelmed by troop movements.

Bus service around the country is feeling the effects of Operation Pillar of Defense, as routes in missile-prone areas are suspended and buses are requisitioned for military purposes.

Reduced schedules were introduced on Sunday for heavily trafficked commuter routes; the usual beefed-up service on Sundays and Thursdays has been cut to midweek levels. The Transportation Ministry says commuters should leave more time than usual and, if possible, travel during off-peak hours. It also recommends using passenger rail, which has not been affected by a reduction in service, when possible.

The Home Front Command has ordered the suspension of many bus routes in the south of the country. Affected routes include those in the Eshkol, Hof Ashkelon, Sha'ar Hanagev and Sdot Negev regional councils, bordering the Gaza Strip. Buses from Tel Aviv to Ashdod and Be'er Sheva, and back, are running with reduced frequency.

The frequency of city bus routes in Sderot and Netivot has been cut to twice an hour. Service within Ashkelon, Ashdod and Be'er Sheva has also been reduced. Bus service to Sapir College and Achva College has been suspended, as have the No. 455 and No. 450A buses in Rahat. Service in Kiryat Malakhi is operating according to schedule.

In another move connected to the military operation in Gaza, anyone in military uniform can ride free on all public buses in Israel and on Jerusalem Light Rail Transit through Monday. Israel Railways passenger service is excluded from the arrangement, which was adopted at the request of Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz. "This is meant to express the State of Israel's appreciation to the tens of thousands of reservists who have enlisted to defend Israel's citizens," Katz said.