Cars on a highway [illustrative].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Some 56% of Israelis believe traffic congestion is one of the three most critical issues currently facing the country, alongside public health and the price of housing, according to a survey published Sunday by the Israeli-founded GPS navigation company Waze.
Respondents said overcrowding on Israel’s roads was a more pressing issue for the state than relations between Jewish and non-Jewish Israelis, and matters of religion and state.
Some 70% of more than 1,000 Israelis surveyed across the country said they sit in a long traffic jam at least once a week, and approximately half said they sit in traffic for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
The survey also revealed that 83% of Israelis believe the government and the Transportation Ministry have the tools at hand to ease the traffic jams, mostly favoring improved public transportation (71%), and increased road construction and better infrastructure (60%).
Approximately one-quarter of Israelis also considered carpooling to offer a significant solution to reduce traffic. About half of respondents signaled their willingness to try shared transportation options, and 88% stated various incentives would encourage them to commute with others, including financial incentives, dedicated carpooling lanes and parking spaces for shared vehicles.
According to the survey, almost one-third (32%) of Israelis believe drivers have the power to influence the situation on the country’s roads, with many willing to play their part.
One-third said they were willing to change their morning routine and travel to work at other times; one-third said they were willing to pay to reduce the number of cars on the road; and 27% said they were even willing to give up their private vehicle if traffic improved.
“From our experience, as well as from the state comptroller’s latest report on the state of transportation in Israel, we understand that the solution to the problem of traffic jams is not the expansion of roads, but the reduction of cars,” Waze director of development Gai Berkovich told The Jerusalem Post.
“Therefore, the most effective ways to combat traffic jams will be those that reduce the number of cars on the road. Carpooling is the fastest, most efficient and available solution to reduce those traffic jams,” said Berkovich.
“The technology already exists, and all that is needed now is the societal change: convincing more people to travel to work together.”
Alongside Google-owned Waze’s well-known free GPS navigation app – which more than 100 million drivers in over 185 countries use to avoid traffic jams – the company provides a carpool app that enables commuters to find rides with other local app users in a further effort to reduce traffic. Launched initially in Israel, the carpool app is now available across the entire United States.
Earlier this month, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira slammed the Transportation Ministry, headed by Israel Katz since 2009, for “systemic failures” leading to a deepening crisis in public transportation that is not only making daily life hard for commuters, but harming the economy to the tune of billions of shekels every year.
According to a 2012 report by the Finance and Transportation ministries, inadequate transportation led to an annual loss of NIS 15 billion ($4.15b.) for the economy, based on Israel’s 2010 GDP. This is expected to soar to NIS 25b. ($6.9b.) annually by 2030, with overcrowding expected to worsen further.
Today, traffic crowding on Israel’s roads is the worst in the OECD, more than three times the Western average. Between 2009 and 2017, the country recorded a 24.9% increase in private cars on the roads.
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