Seeking a compromise that would improve public transportation on Shabbat without
breaking the status quo on buses, Tel Aviv City Hall has called on the
Transportation Ministry to approve the operation of several additional “sherut”
communal taxi lines to operate on Saturday.
In a letter sent to the
ministry last Wednesday, Moshe Toimkin, head of the municipality’s
transportation department, said that increasing the number of such lines “will
allow people who don’t have their own vehicles to reach places on their leisure
day such as: the beach, hospitals, family visits and various other
He added that the current situation where the only
available transport on Shabbat is in private cars or expensive taxis is “good
for the rich and bad for the poor.”
Toimkin’s letter included a map of
the seven proposed routes, which if approved, would service neighborhoods across
the furthest northern, southern and eastern reaches of the city. The routes
would also connect some of Tel Aviv’s poorest neighborhoods to public transport
on Shabbat, including one route that goes from Beit Barbur next to the
impoverished Kfar Shalem neighborhood to the Wolfson Depot in far southeast Tel
Aviv. Another line would connect the troubled south Tel Aviv neighborhood of
Neveh Ofer (“Tel Kabir”) to the hi-tech park at Atidim Depot in far north Tel
Aviv, and another would go all the way from the Neveh Sharett neighborhood in
northeast Tel Aviv to the southern reaches of Jaffa.
Toimkin told The
Jerusalem Post on Monday that the proposal is in many ways just an extension of
the current status quo, which bans the operation of buses on Shabbat but allows
for a limited number of privately-operated sherut lines.
Toimkin said the
current situation already works for people who live in central Tel Aviv, and the
new routes the city is proposing would merely extend that convenience to the
poorer peripheral neighborhoods that currently are not serviced by
“It’s a win-win situation,” he added.
The situation is a
bit less rosy in the eyes of Binyamin Babayof, a representative of the ultra-
Orthodox Shas party on the Tel Aviv City Council.
Babayof said Monday
that he will call of the other religious city council men together and they will
“do everything legally possible to make sure this plan does not go into
Babayof added that he believes the argument that the plan will
provide cheaper transportation for residents of the impoverished south is merely
a fig leaf meant to cover up left-wing council members’ intentions to capitalize
on a politically-loaded issue.
The initiative comes almost exactly two
months after the Tel Aviv City Council voted 13-7 to ask the Transportation
Ministry for permission to operate public transport systems on
As of Monday afternoon the ministry said they had not yet
formulated a response to the proposal.