Standing together - a roundup of Jerusalem affairs

As of next June, passengers using public buses or the train won’t have to load their Rav-Kav, but will be able to use a new application directly from their smart phones.

GOLDA MEIR Boulevard is getting a carpool lane (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
GOLDA MEIR Boulevard is getting a carpool lane
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Monday morning, a few days after acts of vandalism were perpetrated on a mosque in the Sharafat neighborhood (eastern section of Beit Safafa), Mayor Moshe Lion and city council member Arieh King paid a visit to the mosque and listened to a residents’ delegation. The local neighborhood council president Ayub Ali and Mukhtar (village chief) Ismayil Awad, expressed their anger and their fear of such acts. Both Lion and King pledged to work hard to prevent such cases in the future, and Lion promised any help and support necessary to bring life back to normal in the neighborhood, or any financial help needed for the mosque renovation. Last week, Lion also met with a delegation of parents from the Isawiya neighborhood, in an attempt to bring back calm there, after months of police and Border Police activities, which have ended, for now, with some 700 residents arrested and still held in custody by Jerusalem police. Participants in the meeting said that while they appreciate Lion’s efforts to bring back a dialogue between the parties, nothing can get back to normal as long as so many of the neighborhood’s residents are still in being held.
Carpool is here
Within four months, a public lane will be launched on Golda Meir Boulevard, for use by public transportation vehicles, including carpools – cars used by more than 3 persons. This will be a public priority lane for various means of public transportation to ease the traffic on this major road. The Jerusalem municipality and the Ministry of Transportation plan to enlarge the system and extend these public lanes to additional city streets. However, activists in matters of municipal traffic complain that while, on one hand the municipality appears to favor public transportation, on the other hand it invests large sums of public money by adding more roads, suggesting to car owners that private cars will continue to be preferred over public means. In this particular case, the finance committee at Safra Square approved earlier this week a total budget of NIS 1.8 billion (coming for the interim special budget based on last year’s sums) for a series of roads, infrastructure and transportation projects, quite a few of them aimed at enhancing and improving roads for private traffic – while only a smaller part out of this sum (NIS 572 million) will go to improving and promoting the light rail and public transportation projects. Meanwhile, the transportation ministry is not releasing tenders to import new and non-polluting buses because of an internal disagreement between the ministry and the local provider of these vehicles – and, as a result, no improvement in city buses services to be expected. On Monday, members of “15 Minutes” – an association that works to improve public transportation in the city – and residents demonstrated in front of the Ministry, for the moment without any apparent results or movement in the right direction.
Talk to me
The 260 municipal sanitation employees, who have been fired or are on the list of the next to be dismissed, continue to fight for their jobs. A month ago, arson was allegedly committed on the car of the director of the sanitation administration, and at the last city council meeting, Mayor Lion refused to let their representatives present their case, leading to a stormy reaction from the employees who came to protest. Earlier this week, they complained that after the municipality fired them without providing them any solution for further employment, now the labor federation (Histadrut) is not ready to listen to their claims. During the previous municipality reorganization plan, in the early 2000’s, more than 300 hundred employees, mostly from the sanitation administration, who were dismissed in the framework of moving to privatization of the service, were hired by the private companies, as part of the agreement signed by Safra Square. This time, a new move to private cleaning companies – especially for the Old City and the Arab neighborhoods – does not include this clause. Employees aged 50 and over fear that they will not find alternative employment and request that the municipality find them a solution. They now found out that even the Histadrut cannot help them. A source at Safra Square says that further protests are expected in the coming weeks.
Hello, goodbye to Rav-Kav
As of next June, passengers using public buses or the train won’t have to load their Rav-Kav, but will be able to use a new application directly from their smart phones. However, that will not include the city light rail, since Citypass will stop being the operating company by 2022. It is not clear why Citypass cannot give access to the application for the light rail too, but for now, this new and quite user-friendly means of paying will not function on it. So unless Citypass changes it’s decision, or the Ministry of Transportation forces them to do so, no Rav-Kav should yet be thrown away. As for the application, it will be announced close to the beginning of June and accessible to all.