Haredi bus 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Yesh Atid MK Dr. Adi Kol demanded to know why so-called “mehadrin” bus lines
(with separate male and female seating) which service haredi towns and
destinations continue to enjoy cheaper fares than bus routes of a similar
distance and time.
Kol submitted her inquiry as a parliamentary question
in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday afternoon and asked why the issue had not
been addressed despite the recommendations of the state comptroller on the
“It has come to my attention that despite reforms to [public
transportation] fares, bus routes which are not ‘mehadrin’ are more expensive
than those which are ‘mehadrin,’” said Kol, and compared the price of the No.
996 ‘mehadrin’ bus of NIS 30 whose route from Jerusalem to Kfar Hassidim is two
and a half hours, with the fare of non “mehadrin” bus No. 960’s fare of NIS 42
whose route from Jerusalem to Kibbutz Yagur takes one hour 45
Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely acknowledged
public frustration on the issue and added that the recommendations were being
implemented in a graduated process and that discrepancies in route fares would
be rectified in 2014 along with other reforms.
“The equalization of fares
between ‘mehadrin’ and regular routes and the end of discrimination against the
secular public in Israel does not require any expenditure, and there is no
justification in delay of the full implementation of [these] reforms, which are
anyway delayed,” said Kol in response.
“The public is fed up with
repeated excuses such as ‘long-term reforms.’ There is an acute need for
concrete steps, here and now, for the good of the public.”
Avraham Michaeli took to the podium in defense of the fare differentials,
arguing that since the “mehadrin” lines serve unusually large numbers of
passengers. “We don’t need to worry all the time when we hear the words
‘mehadrin’ or ‘religious community’ or ‘haredi’ and immediately capitulate and
start apologizing to those who are trying to go on the attack.”
need to worry, we need to say that for some routes it is economically
worthwhile,” he continued.
Hotovely said in response that principles of
equality should take precedence to economic considerations.