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FRUSTRATED PASSENGERS fill platforms 5 and 6 at the Savidor central train station in Tel Aviv. .(Photo by: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
Central Israeli train stations to shut down Wednesday through Sunday
Waze Carpool to offer free rides to commuters to aid congestion
From late Wednesday through the early hours of Sunday, train travel in much of central Israel will be limited due to ongoing infrastructural projects.

From 7 p.m. on Wednesday through 5 a.m. on Sunday, Israel Railways will be closing down a number of train stations as work continues on both the high-speed train line from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the Sharon train line. During these widespread station closures, a number of alternatives are being offered to travelers, including free rides from the Waze navigation app’s carpooling system.

“The new railway lines are a significant part of the Israel Railways development program and are expected to serve hundreds of thousands of new customers every day, reduce thousands of vehicles on the roads, decrease traffic congestion and improve air quality,” a statement from Israel Railways said.

The Israel Railways shutdown primarily affects stops located between Beit Yehoshua and Tel Aviv University and Hod Hasharon and Tel Aviv University, including Tel Aviv University, Herzliya, Hod Hasharon Sokolov, Kfar Saba-Nordau, Rosh Ha’ayin, Petah Tikva Segula, Petah Tikva Kiryat Arye and Bnei Brak. On Thursday morning and evening during rush hour (6 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.), the segment from Hod Hasharon to Bnei Brak will be operational, according to information from Israel Railways.

While the stations are closed, Waze is offering Waze Carpool users two free rides so passengers are able to reach their offices, the company said.

“Shutdowns on the train for maintenance purposes are inevitable once in a while, so we are pleased that we have the possibility to offer significant relief to travelers,” said Limor Goldhaber, product marketing manager at Waze. “Waze Carpool is a convenient and easy solution for passengers who depend on public transport and do not own cars, and therefore would suffer from the expected shutdown. We hope that, by means of the rides that we are granting as a gift to Waze Carpool users, we can alleviate the anticipated traffic during the shutdown.”

Waze Carpool has been operating a pilot program in Israel since 2015. Like many ride-sharing apps, the system enables people to sign up as drivers and riders – through the general Waze app and a separate Waze Rider app respectively. The system matches up riders and drivers based on their travel itineraries and is currently only available during rush hour.

Waze Carpool is still in the pilot stage and is being rolled out gradually along predefined routes. Travelers interested in becoming passengers can download the Waze Rider app on Android and iPhone platforms and register for the service. Users are limited to two trips per day and recommended to request a ride a day ahead of time, according to information from Waze.

As far as payment is concerned, Waze Rider proposes a ride price based on estimated wear and tear and fuel cost along the travel route. However, passengers can choose to pay a sum lower than the suggested amount. Payment for trips is prearranged, and the money is transferred from passengers to drivers automatically, Waze explained.

In addition to the Waze Carpool option, travelers will have access to free shuttles provided by the Transportation Ministry from the Beit Yehoshua station to the Herzliya and Tel Aviv stations. Meanwhile, Israel Railways will be operating a free bus that stops at the stations between Netanya and Ben-Gurion Airport, as well as bus service from Tel Aviv Savidor Central Station to Tel Aviv University, in both directions.

Israel Railways is also advising passengers to travel by regular buses from the cities of northern Israel and the Sharon region to the country’s Center. Customers with seven-day and 30-day flexible tickets that are valid during the shutdown period and include one of the closed stations will be eligible to extend their tickets as compensation, Israel Railways said.
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