Bus changes 521.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
As secular protesters in Tel Aviv loudly demand public transportation on
Shabbat, the Hebrew University Student Union is quietly organizing
transportation for students at the Mount Scopus campus who want to get to the
center of the city on Friday night.
The pilot will start this Friday
night, with trips from the commercial center in French Hill to Jaffa Street
running once an hour at 9, 10, and 11, and returning at 12, 1, and 2:00 in the
morning. If there is greater demand, the pilot will expand to multiple shuttle
buses running more frequently.
Students will pay between 5 and 6 shekels
per ride, said student union spokesman Amir Koren.
A private company in
east Jerusalem will provide the shuttle buses, since private companies are able
to operate on Shabbat.
Koren said that while many students empathized
with the public transportation protests in Tel Aviv, the shuttles were not meant
to make a political statement.
“We’re not leading this struggle,” said
Koren. “There are a number of secular students that have asked for this, and
we’re trying to find solutions for the entire population of
“We’re not trying to create demonstrations; we’re not going to
bring the buses through [ultra-Orthodox] Mea She’arim or something. We just want
to give them the service,” he added.
A similar shuttle service was
attempted two years ago, but disbanded due to lack of student interest. Koren
said the union wanted to try again due to a high number of requests this
Master’s student Brian Freedman, who moved off campus for his
second year because he felt too isolated on campus, welcomed the
“If you’re one person, you have to think twice about leaving
the campus [on Shabbat],” said the New Jersey native who studies Islam and the
Middle East, adding that the cheapest cab rides are NIS 30 in each
“Last semester, I’d be invited for Shabbat dinner in the
German Colony and I knew that if I wanted to go to the dinner, I’d have to pay
for the cab there and cab back, which could be 40 shekels each way,” he
“Is it worth it to pay 80 shekels to go to a Shabbat dinner? A lot
of times I said no, so I stayed home. If there had been public transportation… I
would have gladly gone.”
“I know that a lot of people, they just decide
to stay in the dorms because they don’t feel like paying for a cab,” Freedman
said, adding that improving Shabbat transportation would allow students to feel
more connected to the city of Jerusalem.
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