The cities of Ramat Gan, Ramat HaSharon and Givatayim have all recently joined the new urban transportation initiative led by the Tel Aviv municipality, the Marker reports.Over the past few months, the Tel Aviv municipality sent letters out to neighboring municipalities on behalf of Mayor Ron Huldai, urging more of them to join their initiative and link up as many cities as possible, so as to maximize the range and impact of the initiative.The service is scheduled to start being active early next year, with each route working between of 2-4 times per hour. The buses will follow set routes covering most of the city, with around 85% of citizens expected to live less than ten minutes away from a station.Bat Yam and Holon, two additional neighboring cities to the south of Tel Aviv, have also expressed their support for the initiative, yet budgetary constraints and looming municipal bankruptcy are currently impeding their efforts to join. If they have any hopes of joining, it will most likely be subsidized through the Tel Aviv Municipality along with other cities looking to gain from the move, such as Rishon LeZion and Rehovot, whose inclusion in the initiative rests heavily on the inclusion of Holon and Bat Yam.Blue and White co-chairmen Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid were quick to praise the decision, with Gantz saying that "everyone deserves their own Shabbat ... This is an action that takes into account the special character of the day of rest, along with the personal freedom of every man and woman to define the Shabbat in their own way: in the synagogue, visiting your parents on the other side of town or simply going to the beach. The option must exist and we will work to make it available to municipalities that want it."Lapid reiterated Gantz's message while also answering to religious criticism saying "this is not an anti-religious action. It's an action to guarantee that even a grandfather who doesn't have enough money for a taxi can see his grandchildren and take them to the beach. That's also a part of the Israeli Shabbat. I hope to see other secular cities join this initiative. The day is not far when a government headed by Blue and White joins as well."Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich of the religious right wing Bayit Yehudi party heavily criticized the move, saying that "forceful actions such as these only widen the tear within Israeli society," adding that he is looking in to possible ways of blocking the initiative through legislation.MKs from Yisrael Beytenu and the Democratic Union praised the initiative, while the Likud has remained silent on the issue, likely due to MK Miki Zohar and former MK Nava Boker who have taken pro-Shabbat stances in the past. This despite the Mayors of Ariel and Tiberias promoting public transportation in their cities of late, both public supporters of the Likud.