The Economy Committee will not discuss a single issue submitted by the Transportation Ministry until Transportation Minister Miri Regev keeps her promise to make public transport free for all men over the age of 67 and women over the age of 62, Likud MK David Bitan, who chairs the committee said on Tuesday.
This comment was made as the committee debated two bills that were being prepared for their first readings and in response to the Transportation Ministry’s demand that an issue it raised be debated before the bills.
Currently, Israelis who reach the age of retirement travel on public transport at half price and only get free transport when they reach the age of 75.
The “Golden line” Rav Kav card was launched last year allowing people over the age of 75 to upload a senior citizen profile on it and get unlimited free rides on public transport.
Adding people who were between retirement age and 75 to the plan was promised by Regev as part of her “Transportation Justice” reform presented in February that includes changes in public transport prices for various groups in Israel including youths and soldiers. However, when the reform was implemented, free transport for people over the age of retirement was not part of it.
Demands for answers
Bitan demanded an update at the meeting on why this part of the reform had not happened and when it would.“We expect it to be implemented toward the end of the year,” promised Chen Geva, head of the Economy-Public Transportation Department in the Transportation Ministry. “The part of lowering the exemption age will be included in the second stage.”
Bitan responded that he expected the second stage to be completed by the end of the year and demanded a signed guarantee from both Regev and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.
“You’re saying that there’s a second stage to shut me up,” he said. “When will it happen? In 2040? I want a date, talking isn’t enough.”
The change in the age of exemption from paying for public transport is expected to cost the country NIS 150 million, and Bitan ended the meeting promising to hold another meeting on the topic at a later date.