AN EGGED BUS pulls up in front of the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Commuters cheered Tuesday after Transportation Minister Israel Katz and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced that transportation reforms will be expanded to include most cities around the country, resulting in cheaper bus, train and light-rail passes for travelers.
The announcement followed comments made by Katz in the Knesset on Monday in which he instructed his ministry’s National Authority For Public Transportation to include “all parts of Israel without exception” in the transportation reforms that began on January 1.
The effective date for the changes is expected to be announced in the coming days.
The transportation overhaul, which comes at a cost of NIS 70 million, enables new subscriptions that integrate various modes of travel and offers reduced prices for daily, weekly and monthly passes in the Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and Beersheba metropolitan areas.
Most cities will join whichever of the four existing regional zones, is closest to them.
A new Eilat zone will be created for commuters in and around that city and in the Negev’s Arava region.
According to Kahlon, the expansion will “help the economy grow and close social disparities.”
Joining the Haifa Zone will be cities in the Golan Heights, Upper Galilee and around the Kinneret, as well as Safed, Tiberias, Afula, Beit She’an and all the towns in the surrounding areas.
Harish and Wadi Ara, near Pardess Hanna, will now have options for passes to Tel Aviv and Haifa, while areas in the Shomron will join the Tel Aviv zone, and the Shilo area will become part of the Jerusalem zone.
Commuters in Kiryat Gat and the surrounding areas will be able to choose a pass either in the Tel Aviv or Beersheba zones, and a pass option will be created between Kiryat Gat and Ashkelon.