70% of Israeli bus drivers to miss work during Ramadan, Passover

Due to the upcoming holiday period, the Public Transport Forum has requested a significant decrease in transport operations.

 IS IT viable for the average resident to forgo their car and take the bus? (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
IS IT viable for the average resident to forgo their car and take the bus?
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Some 70% of Israeli bus drivers across the country will not work during the upcoming holiday period, according to the Public Transport Forum, a union of all Israeli bus companies.

The unprecedented number of absentees is due to Passover, Ramadan and Easter all coinciding during April, meaning hundreds of Israeli Muslims, Jews and Christians will miss work to celebrate their respective holidays.

The forum has therefore requested to significantly lower transport operations during the holidays.

In a request filed to the Transportation Ministry's National Public Transport Authority, the transportation union also asked for lower fines to be handed out for failure to keep up with bus schedules.

While Israeli bus companies usually operate at 40% capacity during Ramadan, this year a more drastic change is needed, according to forum CEO Ya'ar Amir.

 MUSLIMS PRAY on the last Friday of Ramadan in front of the Dome of the Rock, on May 7. (credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS) MUSLIMS PRAY on the last Friday of Ramadan in front of the Dome of the Rock, on May 7. (credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)

"We cannot ignore the Muslims' lawful right to rest during Islamic holidays," Amir said. "From past experience, an overwhelming majority of them exercise this right."

Historically, hundreds of Muslim bus drivers have usually not worked throughout Ramadan, a lack of manpower aggravated this year by the Jews and Christians who are also taking vacation days during the holiday period.