Tel Aviv bus 521.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Around 200 people on Saturday rode buses commissioned by the Meretz Party as
part of a campaign calling for public transportation on the Shabbat.
buses ran along Kfar Saba, Ra’anana and Herzliya, and were free for anyone who
wanted a ride, according to a Meretz press statement.
Ministry must release money from the religious stranglehold and allow for
organized public transportation on weekends,” said MK Nitzan Horowitz, who rode
one of the buses. “This is a vital service with large social and environmental
implications: It will allow those who do not own cars or do not have drivers
licenses to move around, and it will also reduce the number of traffic
“The public enthusiasm for Meretz’s buses proves how
necessary this service is,” he added.
Tel Aviv City Council Member Tamar
Zandberg (Meretz) said that her party’s initiative caused shock waves across the
country and “proves once again the need for public transportation on
Meretz promised to continue in its struggle for public
transportation on Shabbat.
Last month, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai
criticized the lack of public transport on Shabbat. Israel is “the only country
in the world in which public transport does not operate for a quarter of the
year because of Shabbat and festivals,” he said.
Religious parties remain
adamantly opposed to any legislation that would allow for buses to run on holy
In a recent study examining the level of Jewish religiosity in
Israel conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute and the Avi Chai Foundation,
59 percent of respondents said they were in favor of public transportation on
Shabbat and 68% said that weekday activities, such as going to movies, cafes and
restaurants, should be available on Shabbat as well.
There is no
legislation banning the operation of public transportation on Shabbat, but every
bus line needs approval from the ministry, including for its hours of operation.
As part of the status quo agreement on matters of religion and state, bus lines
are generally prevented from operating on Shabbat and festivals, except in the
greater Haifa and Eilat areas, as buses operated there before the foundation of
the state.Jeremy Sharon contributed to this article.