As cancellation fines drop, buses tend not to show up

For delays, companies had to pay NIS 500 per delay of greater than 11 minutes until 2009, while they now only have to pay between NIS 53 and NIS 173, depending on the number of delays.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
July 30, 2019 01:54
2 minute read.
As cancellation fines drop, buses tend not to show up

THE JERUSALEM Central Bus Station and its iconic clock face.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Although public transport continues to be a common source of complaint for Israelis, Channel 13 found that fines by the Transportation Ministry on bus companies for cancellations and delays have decreased substantially in recent years.

While fines per cancellation stood at between NIS 2,000 and NIS 2,500 until 2009, they now stand at around NIS 63 to NIS 173 per cancellation, depending on the percentage of buses canceled within a month. If 1% or less of the buses are canceled per month, which can amount to dozens of buses, the companies are exempt from paying any fine.

For delays, companies had to pay NIS 500 per delay of greater than 11 minutes until 2009, while they now only have to pay between NIS 53 and NIS 173, depending on the number of delays.

“Today, for a public transport company, it’s almost more worthwhile to not send out a bus than to send it out,” said Shimrit Nutman, chairwoman of the “15 Minutes” Public Transportation Alliance organization, an NGO that advocates for better public transportation. “It’s almost worthwhile to not even send a bus out and to pay the fine.”

Since the implementation of an electronic bus tracking system, it is easier for the Transportation Ministry to monitor tardy or canceled buses. As such, more fine are issued, which led the ministry to lower the amount per fine.

One public transport user described to Channel 13 how he waited at the bus station for a bus that was listed on an electronic sign as coming, as well as on an application approved by the Transportation Ministry, but the bus never came. He ended up having to pay more than NIS 120 for a taxi so he could get to work on time.

The amount of complaints by public transport users has skyrocketed by more than 15-fold from 2012 to 2018, according to Transportation Ministry data. While only 2,562 complaints were filed in 2012, some 41,445 complaints were filed in 2018. Forty percent of the complaints concerned delays or cancellations. Companies are fined NIS 150 to NIS 200 for each verified complaint in addition to lateness or cancellations.

The Channel 13 report recommended that travelers record evidence of public transport delays and cancellations. These recordings can then be used to file complaints to the company and initiate minor lawsuits that can lead to public transport users receiving appropriate financial compensation, which can reach thousands of shekels.


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