Deputy Transportation Minister MK Tzipi Hotovely of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ’s Likud Party – which has historically favored haredim in exchange for haredi political support – responded that the state comptroller’s recommendations were being implemented gradually and that fare discrepancies would start to be rectified next year.
MK Demands Government Stop Illegal Haredi Bus Fare Discounts
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Member of Knesset Dr. Adi Kol of the Yesh Atid Party reportedly submitted a parliamentary inquiry in the Knesset yesterday demanding to know why public intercity buses on routes that cater to haredim have cheaper fares than comparable intercity routes which do not and demanded to know why fares had not yet been equalized despite the state comptroller’s exposé of the fare discrepancies three months ago and his recommendation that they be equalized immediately.
Many of the routes in question are so-called mehadrin routes that often illegally force passengers to gender segregate. Some of their fares are as much as 50% cheaper than comparable 'secular' routes.
Deputy Transportation Minister MK Tzipi Hotovely of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ’s Likud Party – which has historically favored haredim in exchange for haredi political support – responded that the state comptroller’s recommendations were being implemented gradually and that fare discrepancies would be rectified next year.
“The equalization of fares between mehadrin and regular routes and the end of discrimination against the secular public in Israel does not require any [financial] expenditure, and there is no justification to delay of the full implementation of [these] reforms…The public is fed up with repeated excuses such as ‘long-term reforms.’ There is an acute need for concrete steps, here and now, for the good of the public,” said Kol in response, the Jerusalem Post reported.
MK Avraham Michaeli of the Sefardi haredi Shas Party defended the fare differentials.
“We don’t need to worry all the time when we hear the words ‘mehadrin’ or ‘religious community’ or ‘haredi’ and immediately capitulate and start apologizing to those who are trying to go on the attack. We don’t need to worry, we need to say that for some routes it is economically worthwhile [to have cheaper fares because the ridership is higher]” Michaeli reportedly said.
Hotovely reportedly responded that equality should take precedence over financial considerations.
The Egged bus company, which had infamously decided to cater to extreme haredi modesty rules on the public buses it operates in Jerusalem, eventually prompting a case before the High Court of Justice, has been discounting fares on heavily haredi routes while similar or even parallel routes are not discounted. A bus traveling from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv may cost a dozen shekels more than another bus traveling from Jerusalem to the Tel Aviv haredi suburb of Bnei Brak. Sometimes routes between the same cities departing and leaving from the same stations at equal times during the day are similarly unevenly priced with the so-called mehadin haredi buses costing significantly less that their ‘secular’ counterparts.