"Good news for all passengers on Israel's public transportation: we have created a simple, user-friendly, and uniform fares structure that will significantly increase the use of public transportation," Transport Ministry Public Transportation Authority director Meir Chen said today in launching the public transportation rate reform. "Before the reform, there were 1,500 different rate areas in the country. That's crazy and unreasonable. The fare structure will now be the same as what is happening in the world's major cities, including Madrid, London, Amsterdam, and Montreal."
As part of the reform, the cost of a ride in each of Israel's major metropolitan areas - the greater Tel Aviv region, Jerusalem, Haifa, and Beer Sheva - will be uniform according to the rings included in it. Travelers will be able to buy new subscription tickets, including weekly, monthly, and daily passes, and travel without restrictions on all forms of public transportation (buses, Israel Railways, the light rail, and the Metronit - the Haifa metropolitan public transport system) throughout the metropolitan area. By the end of the first quarter of 2016, an individual ticket will also be launched that will allow travel on all means of public transportation for 90 minutes.
In addition, the price of a combined monthly subscription for the railway and buses has been cut substantially. For example, a combined monthly subscription ticket between Tel Aviv and Rishon Lezion will cost NIS 252 instead of NIS 400, a 37% rate cut. A monthly ticket between Tel Aviv and Rehovot will cost NIS 286 instead of NIS 491, a 42% cut. The cost of a monthly ticket between Tel Aviv and Ashdod will be cut 39% to NIS 351.
"This was a very technologically complex operation," Chen said, thereby explaining why the reform is being applied only in the four major metropolises, instead of everywhere in Israel. Chen added that 50% of rail travel and 70% of bus travel took place within the metropolitan areas. The cost of the first stage of the reform is estimated at NIS 150 million, and the cost of the entire reform at NIS 300 million a year.
Not everyone is happy
Although many passengers will undoubtedly welcome it, not everyone is profiting from the reform. Passengers who do not use a combination of different means of transportation will now have to pay more for their monthly subscription. The Ministry of Transport asserts that the reform will lower the cost of public transportation for 95% of users.
Another problem is inadequate preparation by some of the public transportation operators. The Public Transport Users Association in Israel examined how up-to-date the websites of the operators were, and to what extent they were providing relevant information. The Kavim, Superbus, and Citypass companies were rated 9 and Egged Israel Transport Cooperative Society Ltd. and Afikim were rated 8, while Israel Railways, Nateev Express, Metropolitan, and Dan Public Transportation Co. Ltd. were rated 6 or lower.
Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz instructed the Transportation Authority to take immediate action to lower the price of tickets in places where rates have been made higher by the rates reform. He stated, "Raising prices on a few of the lines was done against my instructions. The rate reform is designed to lower prices for all public transportation users, not raise them - and that is how it will be."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 1, 2016
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