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Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem
Bus-lines shift in capital’s haredi areas
By MELANIE LIDMAN
06/12/2012
6 lines canceled, 25 routes changed in reorganization of public transportation system.
 
Bus lines in the haredi neighborhoods in the northwest of Jerusalem will change at the end of the month as part of the multi-step transportation reforms in the capital, the Transportation Ministry announced on Tuesday.

Six lines will be canceled and 25 lines will be changed or created anew as transportation officials try to restructure an aging public transportation system. The goal behind the reforms is to replace long, winding, multi-neighborhood lines with shorter, more efficient lines that feed into main transportation channels such as the light rail and the bus rapid transit (BRT) lanes, transportation officials said.

On June 29, bus lines will change in the entire northwestern quadrant of the city, including the neighborhoods of Har Nof, Givat Shaul, Romema, Geula, Shmuel Hanavi, Ramat Eshkol, and Ramat Shlomo. The changes are available on the city’s transportation website www.jet.gov.il, a site that users surfing with the “kosher web” filter can still access.

“This transportation system hasn’t been updated in decades,” Uzi Yitzhaki, the new director of the Transportation Ministry, said on Tuesday. The Jerusalem buses are being changed quadrant by quadrant. Changes to bus lines in the southwest quadrant of the city in January provoked harsh criticism, especially from residents of Kiryat Yovel, who lost some of the direct bus lines to the center of the city in exchange for buses that lead to the light rail.

Jerusalem is the largest public transportation system in the country, with approximately half a million trips on public transportation each day in Jerusalem, Yitzhaki said.

The light rail accounts for around 20 percent of the trips with 100,000 trips per day.

30% of residents rely on public transportation.

Yitzhaki acknowledged the light rail is going through “labor pains and childhood illnesses.

We know there are problems,” he said, adding that 25 ticket inspectors on the light rail were fired after a massive public outcry over predatory fines. The remaining ticket inspectors were “retrained” not to act like policemen trying to catch people, Yitzhaki said.

Reorganizing buses in the haredi sector is challenging because the community relies so heavily on public transportation, said Dror Ganon, the Transportation Ministry’s senior deputy director-general for public transportation. In addition to the regular public announcements in newspapers and mailings, the Transportation Ministry is publicizing the bus changes at synagogues, yeshivot, and most importantly, event halls.

“We want to make sure every bride knows that the buses are changing on June 29,” said Ganon. “It’d be enough for us to miss one hall where everyone misses the huppa because the buses don’t come and everyone will be against us.”
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