Starting next Wednesday, buses will run to the country's main entertainment districts until 3:30 a.m.
In an effort to reduce drunk driving and traffic accidents caused by young people on their way to and from parties and outings, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz has asked bus operators to extend the operating hours of 22 bus lines that carry passengers back and forth to 25 municipalities, the Transportation Ministry announced on Monday.
The special bus lines operated by Egged, Dan and Kavim will take passengers from central locations in cities such as Kfar Saba, Ra'anana, Petah Tikva, Yehud and Givatayim to the entertainment districts in the big cities.
The main destinations for the buses will be Allenby Street and the port district in Tel Aviv, the Rishon Lezion boardwalk, the Herzliya marina and central entertainment locations in Haifa and Jerusalem.
The special lines will run from midnight to 3:30 a.m. every day except Friday and the cost will be that of a regular bus fare. The buses will display a logo featuring an owl, a symbol of urban nightlife.
"This is a revolution in terms of public transportation that will enable young people to safely enjoy themselves," Katz said. "After decades during which bus service ended at midnight, safe and affordable night-lines will be offered to Israel's tens of thousands of young people, an effort that will help reduce drunk driving and resulting accidents."
Studies conducted by the Or Yarok traffic safety organization indicate that drivers between 17 and 24 of age are involved in a disproportionate number of fatal accidents and that many of these occur on weekends and at night. Young drivers make up 16 percent of drivers but cause nearly 25% of accidents.
"We are at the start of the summer vacation. That means that many teenagers and young people go out often. Unfortunately, as in many other countries, in Israel, too, young people are involved in too many accidents," Or Yarok general director Shmuel Aboav said. "This means that the government must pay extra attention to young drivers and put into effect special measures."
Or Yarok volunteers will hand out transportation vouchers in the central entertainment districts, outside bars and nightclubs, to encourage young people to use public transit instead of private vehicles.