Tiberias begins public transportation on Shabbat, residents divided

Tiberias Mayor Ron Cobi, known for his anti-haredi rhetoric, allowed buses to operate on the Jewish day of rest

Egged bus (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Egged bus
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The streets of Tiberias,were busier than usual this past weekend. For the first time ever, buses in the city began operating on Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.
Service in the city at the edge of Lake Kinneret was limited to two buses on one route. The buses ran from the morning until the afternoon bringing residents to and from the promenade overlooking the Sea of Galilee.
Since his election in November, Tiberias Mayor Ron Cobi has planned to encourage family-oriented activities on weekends along the promenade, Israel Hayom reported on Sunday. Should this first bus line work as expected, Cobi plans to increase the number of lines and routes.
"Tiberias regained today what was taken from it years earlier - the right to choose," said Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer. Forer joined activists in Tiberias on Saturday and lauded what he called the city's decision to allow more freedom of movement during the weekends to residents without cars.
The move divided city residents, with some praising the move and others saying they regretted voting the new mayor into office.
"I voted for Ron Cobi in the past but I would not vote for him today," local resident Suli Bar-Hen told Army Radio on Sunday. "It's wonderful to see Tiberias prospering, just not on Shabbat."
Another resident, Yossi Elimelech, told Army Radio he supported the move, explaining the buses have opened the promenade to residents.
"People could not walk to the promenade, it's an hour's [walk], and not everyone has money for a special taxi," he said on Sunday. "Their problem is solved now and it's great fun"
Cobi has expressed anti-haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sentiments in the past, saying, for example, "The haredim make up 22% of the total population in Tiberias and they must not reach 30%."
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.