Reforms in TA bus system reveals glitches, but no disasters

Organizers say reforms simplify travel, cut waiting time; critics say move complicates travel by stranding passengers long accustomed to various routes.

By OREN KESSLER, MACKENZIE GREEN
July 4, 2011 04:33
3 minute read.
[illustrative]

Egged bus 74 normal day 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The Tel Aviv area’s bus system overhaul passed its first major test Sunday, averting transportation disasters and mass panic even while some commuters complained of delays and the inconvenience of canceled or modified routes.

The reforms – which include Egged, Dan, Metropoline and Kavim lines in the Gush Dan area – are over a decade in the making, with changes to routes and fares, new transfer procedures and relocated stops.

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Under the reforms, all four bus operators working in the Tel Aviv region will collect a single fare – NIS 6.40, up from NIS 6 – and passengers may transfer between routes and operators at no charge within a 90-minute window.

Transfers will also be free for passengers traveling on the same line to and from a single destination within the same timeframe.

Organizers say the reforms simplify travel, cut waiting time and reduce environmental and noise pollution.

Critics say the move complicates travel by stranding passengers long accustomed to various routes.

Authorities have deployed about 2,000 temporary employees to bus stations across the area, where they are distributing information booklets to commuters and helping sort out any confusion.

The signs affixed to the bus stops indicating route numbers do not, however, appear to have been updated yet.

The plan’s major changes include the cancelation of Dan routes 1 and 2 in Tel Aviv, replaced by lines 72 and 172, and modifications to route 5. Egged now operates route 26, and has added route 126 to the northern Tel Aviv suburbs, and canceled routes 73, 92 and others.

A number of new routes serve Holon, Bat Yam and Rishon Lezion.

Immediately after the changes were enacted Friday morning, a number of glitches were reported as passengers complained of delays and magnetic ticket malfunctions.

On Sunday the reforms were put to their first major test as commuters returned to work in the morning rush hour. Some passengers complained buses were coming less frequently than before, and others said they simply didn’t understand the changes.

“This is terrible – I don’t understand anything,” one commuter told Channel 10. “I need to get to Rehov Ben- Yehuda, but the bus hasn’t come in about an hour.”

Another passenger added, “They promised us it would come every 5 to 7 minutes, but I’ve been here almost 20.”

These views, however, seemed to form a minority opinion, as most travelers expressed no inconvenience at all.

“This is the first time I’m going with 72. Before I took the number 2. The wait time seems the same – I’ve been waiting here for 15 minutes,” said Hani Amir.

The 11 former bus regions have been reduced to three: all of the greater Tel Aviv area, including Rishon Lezion and Petah Tikva, is now included in Region 1, while the Ra’anana and Herzliya area is designated Region 21 and Rosh Ha’ayin is 22.

Fare between regions costs NIS 10, and one-day passes for unlimited travel in Region 1 is NIS 14, or NIS 7 for senior citizens.

An unlimited monthly pass for Region 1 now costs NIS 227, NIS 159 for Region 21 and NIS 248 for access to all regions.

A full explanation of the transportation reforms is available in English on the Egged website, and in Hebrew on the Dan website and at busline.co.il.

Rechargeable “Rav-Kav” magnetic cards – allowing travel on all bus operators and in all regions – are available at operators’ customer services centers, including the central bus stations in Tel Aviv (sixth floor), Herzliya and Kfar Saba, and the bus depot adjacent to Tel Aviv’s Savidor Central rail station.

Old-style paper multiple tickets will be accepted by Egged drivers only through July 17.


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