74 percent of public favors some form of public transport on Shabbat, poll finds

Large majority also rejected a recent claim made by Transport Minister Yisrael Katz that campaign for public transportation on Shabbat was politically motivated.

An Egged bus driving through Jerusalem (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
An Egged bus driving through Jerusalem
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A poll conducted by the Rafi Smith Institute for the Hiddush religious freedom lobbying group has shown that a large majority of the public favors the implementation to some degree of public transport on Shabbat.
Asked what the ideal solution for public transport on Shabbat should be, 52 percent said that “public transport should be operated at a decreased level [than that during the week],” which could include the central bus lines at a decreased rate, and possibly through small shuttle vehicles.
Another 22% said that public transport should be operated at the same level and frequency as during the week, while 16% said the situation should be left as it is and 10% said to cancel the low level of public transport that is available currently.
The level of support for public transport on Shabbat was also measured according to party political affiliation. The poll found that 72% of Likud voters favored some level of public transport on Shabbat, as did 100% of Meretz voters, 96% of Zionist Union voters, 96% of Yesh Atid voters, 92% of Yisrael Beytenu voters, 89% of Kulanu voters, 47% of Bayit Yehudi voters and 2% of haredi voters.
A large majority of the poll sample, some 74%, also rejected a recent claim made by Transportation Minister Israel Katz of the Likud that the growing campaign for public transportation on Shabbat is politically motivated, promoted by the left wing, with 26% supporting his comments.
Indeed, 70% from Katz’s own party, along with 85% of Yisrael Beytenu supporters, disagreed with the minister’s comments and supported the statement that “the struggle for public transport on Shabbat is a broad public campaign that crosses political lines of Left and Right.”
Last week, Katz accused campaigners of being “leftist” NGO employees, in reaction to a post on his Facebook page by someone who called on people to ask Katz to arrange private hitchhiking rides for them over the long weekend last week, which included the seventh day of Passover, which fell on Friday, and Shabbat, meaning that there was no public transport from Thursday night to Saturday night.
Hiddush director Rabbi Uri Regev said in response to the poll that demands for public transport on Shabbat are justified and would be a positive development, which is why, he said, support for it is growing.
“The gap between the will of the general public and the politicians who refuse to represent them is insufferable,” said Regev.
“It is a fight to lift the siege that descends with Shabbat on the weaker sectors of society, such as the poor, the elderly, and youth. Shabbat pleasure for the secular and traditional community includes the possibility of not being in prison at home.
The battlefront of the haredi establishment, Minister Katz and other secular politicians does not only not strengthen the Jewish identity of the state but generates hatred for Judaism among the public,” he said.

Sharon Udasin contributed to this report.