Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz today held a press conference on public transportation reform. Among other things, he announced that shared-route taxies (sheruts) were becoming part of the Israel's public transportation system, including those operating on the Sabbath. People with rav-kav smart cards will be able to use them for shared-route taxi rides.
Katz said, "This is important news, with no connection to elections. We began dealing with shared-route taxis even before the previous elections. What had to be completed in order to announce the measure was coordination with the Ministries of Finance and Justice.
"We're announcing a revolution in shared-taxis that is important in its own right. They will be part of Israel's public transportation system. There was no rav-kav until a few years ago. It was not easy to put the service into the bus companies, and now it is a necessity that everyone understands, and it will be improved. We're adding shared-route taxis to the rav-kav. A passenger will be able to use a shared-route taxi just like a train or a bus. This is an advantage for passengers.
"How will the state do the accounts with the shared-route taxi operators? We'll expand the shared-route taxi sector, after it was frozen in 2017. A suspension that prevents competition never succeeds. It may protect the shared-route taxis against competition, but the bus service they are up against is getting better."
Katz continued, "In the framework of the status quo in the country, in which there is no subsidized public transportation on weekends, shared-route taxis will continue operating. We will not change what exists now. We will enable those who need public transportation on weekends to obtain a broader range of possibilities, without upsetting the status quo in the existing framework of rules. I wish everything in Israel could be determined in the framework of the status quo, with haredim and other religiously observant people preserving their customs and the public getting its service. In other words, we are making the shared-route taxis part of the public transportation system, not changing the rules for weekends.
"This is another measure in the interurban reform, which is in addition to the metropolitan reform. What we are doing today will make it possible to expand the transportation system. These are pre-budget agreements, meaning before the decision on the next state budget. The discussions will have to include additional measures with more funding. The things described today have been coordinated with the Ministry of Finance."
Katz added, "We have to develop advanced public transportation, including getting on buses through rear doors, which I want to implement completely. That will make it easier to recruit drivers. We improved the drivers' pay. When a driver has to be a cashier, psychologist, getting mad and arguing, people do not want the job. I agreed to continue the 'going green' trial; we agreed with the Ministry of Finance that it was worthwhile."
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on December 13, 2017
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