Under the leadership of new Minister of Transport Bezalel Smotrich, the Ministry of Transport is launching a major reform that will greatly affect interurban roads - reserving lanes on the Ayalon Highway and the coastal highway for vehicles with two or three people.
The purpose of the plan, called Netiv Plus, is to encourage shared travel, thereby reducing traffic congestion. According to the Ministry of Finance's figures, the average number of people in a vehicle is currently 1.2. If this rises to 1.4, the Ministry of Finance calculates that road congestion will be significantly reduced. "If we can only increase the average to 1.7, there will be no traffic jams in Israel," Smotrich says.
Pilot or permanent plan
The new plan is not a pilot; it is the first stage in the Ministry of Transport's plan for a network of lanes giving preference to public transport and private vehicles with at least one passenger besides the driver. The change will go into effect at the end of this week; the lanes have already been marked in yellow, and the minimum number of people in the vehicle for traveling in the lane is marked on the road.
On Road 2, the coastal highway, the 22-kilometer section between the Netanya Interchange and the Western Glilot Interchange in both directions is involved. In both directions, the rightmost lane, hitherto open to all, will be converted. At least two people in the car, including the driver, will now be needed to travel in it. In the southern direction, driving on the hard shoulder will be permitted for public transport in certain sections, as is already the case.
On the Ayalon Highway (Road 20) northbound, the section is from the Mevo Ayalon Interchange until the Hel Hashiryon Interchange. This involves adding 1.8 kilometers to the existing public transport lane on the left side of the road. The big difference, however, is that the public transport lane is currently in effect only in the morning; it is available to all vehicles the rest of the day. After it is converted to a Netiv Plus lane, travel on it will be restricted during the entire day. In this section, at least three people will be required in the car in order to use the lane.
The new regulation will be enforced by police on motorcycles, not through cameras or other electronic means. "Israel Police will put two full-time police officers on motorcycles on each such lane. They will travel back and forth on the lanes and enforce the travel rules on them," Smotrich stated.
Fines for breaking the law
Traveling on a Netiv Plus lane without the right number of people in the car will be penalized with a NIS 500 fine. On his Facebook page, however, Smotrich revealed that enforcement will be less strict in the first month. "Drivers caught for the first time alone in a car in the special lane will be let off with a warning. We don't intend to use the fines to make money. Anyone caught in a private vehicle by himself in the special lane after the first month or for the second time will have to pay NIS 500," Smotrich warned.
Motorcycles in the special lanes
Although two-wheeled vehicles were formerly allowed to travel in public transport lanes, the Ministry of Transport says that this will not be allowed "for safety reason." Taxicabs will be allowed to travel on the Ayalon Highway, as they have been up until now, but will be allowed on the coastal highway only if the driver is carrying a passenger.
Buses in the special lanes
One concern is that adding private vehicles to public transport lanes will affect the speed at which buses travel on the Ayalon Highway in the morning, because these lanes are currently reserved strictly for public transport at that time. At the same time, there will be more buses on both roads. Smotrich says that NIS 7.5 million will be allocated to reinforcing the shared cab routes as part of the measure.
Those traveling on the roads involved must carry passengers with them. In addition to internal organizing at work places, it is possible to find rise shares with apps such as Waze and Moovit.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 3, 2019
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