MK Adi Kol: Fix discriminatory bus fares against non-haredim

“Mehadrin” bus lines (with separate male and female seating) which service haredi towns and destinations continue to enjoy cheaper fares than bus routes of a similar distance and time.

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November 7, 2013 21:50
1 minute read.
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Haredi bus 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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Yesh Atid MK Dr. Adi Kol demanded to know why so-called “mehadrin” bus lines (with separate male and female seating) which service haredi towns and destinations continue to enjoy cheaper fares than bus routes of a similar distance and time.

Kol submitted her inquiry as a parliamentary question in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday afternoon and asked why the issue had not been addressed despite the recommendations of the state comptroller on the matter.

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“It has come to my attention that despite reforms to [public transportation] fares, bus routes which are not ‘mehadrin’ are more expensive than those which are ‘mehadrin,’” said Kol, and compared the price of the No. 996 ‘mehadrin’ bus of NIS 30 whose route from Jerusalem to Kfar Hassidim is two and a half hours, with the fare of non “mehadrin” bus No. 960’s fare of NIS 42 whose route from Jerusalem to Kibbutz Yagur takes one hour 45 minutes.

Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely acknowledged public frustration on the issue and added that the recommendations were being implemented in a graduated process and that discrepancies in route fares would be rectified in 2014 along with other reforms.

“The equalization of fares between ‘mehadrin’ and regular routes and the end of discrimination against the secular public in Israel does not require any expenditure, and there is no justification in delay of the full implementation of [these] reforms, which are anyway delayed,” said Kol in response.

“The public is fed up with repeated excuses such as ‘long-term reforms.’ There is an acute need for concrete steps, here and now, for the good of the public.”

Shas MK Avraham Michaeli took to the podium in defense of the fare differentials, arguing that since the “mehadrin” lines serve unusually large numbers of passengers. “We don’t need to worry all the time when we hear the words ‘mehadrin’ or ‘religious community’ or ‘haredi’ and immediately capitulate and start apologizing to those who are trying to go on the attack.”



“We don’t need to worry, we need to say that for some routes it is economically worthwhile,” he continued.

Hotovely said in response that principles of equality should take precedence to economic considerations.

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