Egged claims post-Shabbat ‘free riders’, almost all of whom are haredim, haven’t been paying up the next day as required, and their ride theft is costing the bus company money – so much money that some say Egged may have to end the practice. Its recent investigation found that not just some, but most of these ‘free riding’ passengers do not pay for their post-Shabbat ‘free ride’ Sunday. But despite this, Egged says it will not end the practice.
Egged To Continue Post-Shabbat Haredi ‘Free Rides’ – Despite Widespread Alleged Haredi Theft
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
For at least a decade, the Israeli bus company Egged, which operates the public bus lines in Jerusalem, has allowed haredi bus riders to ride for free on the first few buses that operate on the 1, 2, and 3 lines after Shabbat ends, with the stipulation that these ‘free riders’ will pay their fares later that night or Sunday.
But now, Yent reported, Egged claims these ‘free riders’, almost all of whom are haredim, haven’t been paying up, and their ride theft is costing the bus company money – so much money that some say Egged may have to end the practice. Egged's recent investigation found that not just some, but most of these ‘free riding’ passengers do not pay for their post-Shabbat ‘free ride’ on Sunday as required.
This prompted Egged to run ads in haredi papers urging haredim to stop stealing rides.
The ads sparked outrage in the haredi community and claims that Egged is discriminating against haredim by singling them out for stealing – even though Egged claims to have the data to back up its claims.
Orthodox and haredi Jews cannot usually carry bus cards or money on the Sabbath – even within areas enclosed by an eruv, a halakhic (Orthodox Jewish legal) construct that creates a walled city or neighborhood where no wall actually exists, and even within a true walled city like the Old City of Jerusalem.
Besides charges of antisemitism and discrimination leveled at Egged, Egged’s findings have led to fears in the haredi community that its practice of allowing post-Shabbat ‘free rides’ will be ended.
And those fears prompted a haredi resident of Jerusalem to take action to stop that from happening.
But this haredi man did not launch an educational campaign to encourage haredim to pay their fares or do something to offset Egged’s losses.
He petitioned the State Comptroller and demanded that Egged continue offering post-Shabbat ‘free rides’ on those three bus lines and extend them to all other bus lines in the city.
Egged – which has bent over backward to appease haredim, even going as far as banning all ads on its buses in the city that depict any human being, feature cartoons of any human beings, cartoons of space aliens, pictures and cartoons of non-kosher animals and in a seminal case, a campaign ad with a modest photo of a female politician, all to meet extreme haredi modesty preferences – reacted predictably.
"For the past 10 years, we have been upholding an unwritten agreement with Shabbat observing passengers, under which Egged lets them get on the first service lines leaving the Western Wall Plaza at the end of Shabbat, and the passengers pay for this ride the next day. Despite the drop in the number of passengers paying for the [‘free’] Saturday evening ride later on and upholding the agreement, at this stage we have no intention of changing or canceling this special arrangement,” it reportedly said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Egged's CEO Ohad Gibli said that as far as he's concerned, the Egged public bus company is an exclusively haredi company within the borders of Jerusalem.
"…[W]e function in Jerusalem as a haredi media company because the buses pass through haredi neighborhoods, and just as haredi media won't post an ad with a message that calls for opening businesses on Shabbat, and just as other media outlets don't feature women, the same is true of me. In the wake of the petition to the High Court it was decided [by me] that there would be no figures at all, and to our regret that is the situation today."
Recent Related Egged Posts:
Egged Public Bus Company CEO: As Far As I’m Concerned, We’re A “Haredi Company” And As Such We Will Continue To Refuse To Post Ads Depicting Women, Girls, Men, Boys, Animals, Extinct Animals, Cartoon Figures And Space Aliens.