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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘transportation’

Negev Loses Airport Night Trains

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Residents of southern Israel – particularly those living in the periphery communities in the Negev – will no longer have the option of taking the train to and from the airport after 11:00 p.m.

A spokesperson for Israel Railways told The Jewish Press on Thursday morning the service just didn’t pay for itself. “The government and the railway company made the decision together,” said the spokesperson, who added the figures totaled only an average of five or six riders per night on the line. “It wasn’t cost effective.”

Instead, it was decided the Metropoline Bus Service will take over the route, she said. Bus #469 will begin at the Arlozorov station in Tel Aviv and then make a stop at the airport, travel to Kiryat Gat and then go to the central bus station in Be’er Sheva.

That’s a solution for folks who live in the city of Be’er Sheva itself, perhaps – but what about those who live in the small periphery towns where bus service doesn’t exist overnight?

“Tough luck, baby,” said one consumer. “We’re stuck with paying hundreds of shekels for travel after 11 pm, just like we always have – and that after first spending hours traveling to the other cities just to get a little closer. Instead of paying NIS 600 to get home, I end up paying NIS 300 from Be’er Sheva, but spend three more hours after a 12-hour flight and another hour or more in baggage claims. Forget it.”

The Negev region comprises 60 percent of the nation’s land mass – but its travel network has yet to be developed to the point that even half of its communities have any access to railway service at all.

When asked why there is still no railway branch route to Arad, for example — while Dimona, a city of similar size and population, has had one for several years – the spokesperson for Israel Railways could not find a reason. Arad, a ‘clean air’ resort town located about 45 minutes east of Be’er Sheva and 25 minutes west of the Dead Sea, is in the midst of a major development boom due to the expansion of Route 31, which runs between the two points.

The Nevatim air base is located near Route 31 – described in Hebrew media as ‘death road’ due to the high number of motor vehicle fatalities that have occurred along the highway — as is the Nahal army base at Tel Arad.

New Runway Opens at Ben Gurion International Airport

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Israel has added a 21st runway to Ben Gurion International Airport, just in time for the summer tourism season.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz called the project, “an additional stage in the implementation of the Open Skies policy, allowing more competition between airlines that will result in lower prices for airfares.”

The first plane to hit the tarmac was that of an El Al flight arriving in Lod from Rhodes.

Peace Must Be Near: Embassy Ordering Americans to Avoid Israeli Taxis

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

The following email was sent out by the US Embassy in Israel:

From: mailto:amctelaviv@state.gov
Sent: Tuesday, December 24, 2013 7:19 AM
Subject:
Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens: Response to December 22 Bus Bombing in Tel Aviv

U.S. citizen employees of the U.S. Embassy and their families are temporarily prohibited from using sheruts, the mini-bus shared taxis. The temporary prohibition on sheruts is in effect for the next two weeks as we assess the security implications of the December 22 bomb attack on a public bus in the Bat Yam neighborhood of Tel Aviv. This restriction is in addition to the longstanding prohibition on the use of public buses and their associated terminals and bus stops in Israel.

No mention that this minor transportation disruption is the result of Secretary of State Kerry trying to force negotiations on the Palestinian Authority, and this is their official response.

Incidentally, the reason only mini-buses are mentioned is probably because the embassy staff wouldn’t be caught dead on an Israeli public bus — probably for fear of being caught dead.

So far, according to the Shin bet, Israel’s internal security agency, the monthly acts of terrorism have risen from 82 back in July, when public opinion wasn’t so aware of the negotiations between Tzipi and her Pal Pals, to 167 in November, when it’s becoming clear that the U.S. may manage to squeeze some form of an agreement out of the two sides.

This is the pattern in Israeli-Arab peace talks since 1994, when we were blessed by the Oslo accords, and since then every time we hear of another phase in the negotiations, more blood is shed.

Michael Wolfowicz, who blogs for the Times of Israel, suggests this is not unique to the Palestinians, and all over the world terrorists try to prevent peace and stability by doing what they do best: murdering civilians.

Except that over here we’ve seen that these acts of terror are being committed by government decree, both in Gaza and in the PA. Calls to arms are official on the part of our negotiations partners, who wants peace with us like we want a hole in the head.

Sadly, both sides have been receiving more holes in the head than anything else, since this madness began, back in 1993.

High-Speed Train Planned to Whisk Passengers to Old City

Monday, October 21st, 2013

A high-speed train now under construction from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem may be extended to reach the Old City, according to an Israel Railways and the Transportation Ministry plan that will be stiffly opposed by Jerusalem planning authorities.

The planned line includes a 1.5 mile tunnel linking the central train station, being built across the street from the Central Bus Station, with the Mamilla mall that is located directly opposite the Jaffa Gate entrance to the Old City.

Planners are afraid that the planned rail line will take funds away from extending Jerusalem’s light rail system, which now consists of only one line. Three more lines are being planned.

Open Skies Ahead for Israel

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz signed an Open Skies agreement with the EU on Monday in Luxembourg. The agreement which is to be gradually implemented over the next 5 years, until it goes fully into effect in 2018, should lower prices significantly on flights between Israel and Europe.

Open Skies will allow EU and Israeli airlines to operate direct flights to each others airports, and not be restricted to specific routes or airports.

When first introduced, the plan was very controversial in Israel, as El Al needs to expend a large sum of money on security that European airlines don’t need to, and that would have made it impossible for El Al to compete.

The Israeli government decided to shoulder almost the entire cost of El Al’s security expenses, which should allow the Israeli airline to be competitive.

Life in Israel: A Complaint to Egged

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Egged is Israel’s main bus company. Every day, without exaggeration, I would guess they move millions of people in hundreds of cities, towns and villages in Israel. The challenge they often face – is not forgetting that each of those million is a person. You’ll often see the last person get on the bus…and still the bus doesn’t move because as the driver was preparing to leave, he noticed someone running for his bus and he chose to wait.

For the most part, they are efficient and do their best to get people where they need to go. For the most part, they are kind and patient. They’ll greet you as you get on the bus and respond in kind as you wish them a good day. They’ll go that extra bit to explain where something is…

And sometimes, they go beyond…

In 2003, I wrote this:

Egged Prepares for Gulf II: Egged has trained 100 drivers to drive with gas masks and protective suits so that they can drive INTO an area where potentially bio/chem weapons have landed to evacuate wounded).

In 2008, I wrote about how a bus driver heard that a soldier had left his backpack on a bus. When he realized, he jumped on the next bus and explained to the driver what had happened. That driver radioed ahead and the second driver pulled to the side of the road and waited for them to catch up so the soldier could retrieve his backpack. (Even the Bus Drivers Love Them).

I also wrote another story in that post about how bus drivers in Israel sometimes do amazing things, like this:

When the bus driver realized that a former prime minister had boarded his bus, he insisted on driving the astonished leader to his doorstep, even though it was off the usual bus route. Embarrassed at the attention, the leader tried to argue with the bus driver, but the applause of the people on the bus made it clear that they agreed with the driver.

More recently, a bus driver was confronted with a crying a first grader who had missed his stop. He turned the bus around and took the boy home before resuming his trip.

So, having told of the amazing, I feel free to tell about the less than amazing. Sadly, the less than amazing is often more the norm and for this reason, I’ve decided to write this post.

This morning, Aliza and four of her friends went to school. A bus, the Egged 175 pulled into her stop at 10:15 - perfect timing to get the girls to school at 10:30 (they had a weekend event and so were given permission to come in late). The bus pulled in on time – the driver refused to let the girls get on the bus – and merely yelled at someone else to get out of the bus using the rear door.

He didn’t bother to explain – rather, he left five young girls upset on the side of the road, missing the only bus that would get them to school on time. I decided I would complain – and I have. I could write this to Egged, but they don’t want phone calls. They prefer we fax our complaints… and honestly, I doubt a call or a fax or an email will change anything. I don’t think if they will track down that driver or not.

I would have preferred the driver leave me standing on the side of the road, in the heat of the day, causing me to be late, than leave five girls standing there as he did. Perhaps there was a reason – perhaps they were sending out a new bus and he’d been ordered to end his trip at that point and not take on additional passengers.

All it would have taken was his opening the door and explaining this to the girls – that act of kindness, of patience, would have been the difference between their calmly waiting for another bus or finding an alternative, and the phone call I received from an upset child who was going to be late through no fault of her own.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

The Media and the ‘Palestinian Only’ Bus Lines

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

There seems to be no evidence whatsoever to back up accusations, in the Guardian and throughout the media, that new bus lines in Israel, serving Palestinians who live in the West Bank but work in central Israel, serve ‘Palestinians only.’

Prior to the launch of the new lines Israeli buses did not stop in towns controlled by the P.A., and Palestinians were dependent on transportation services by “pirate” (Arab) companies. (Alternately they could travel to an Israeli settlement, such as Ariel, and take a bus from there to Israeli cities across the green line).

Conal Urquhart’s Guardian report on the issue, which, in fairness, is no worse than others in the mainstream media, was titled “Israel to launch ‘Palestinian only’ bus service,” March 4, and begins:

The Israeli government will on Monday begin operating a “Palestinians-only” bus service to ferry Palestinian workers from the West Bank to Israel, encouraging them to use it instead of travelling with Israeli settlers on a similar route.

However, at no point does Urquhart attempt to buttress this sensational claim, nor indicate the source of the (“Palestinians only”) quote.

In fact, he then notes the following:

Officially anyone can use them, but the ministry of transport said that the new lines are meant to improve services for Palestinians.

In a statement to the Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, the ministry said: “The new lines are not separate lines for Palestinians but rather two designated lines meant to improve the services offered to Palestinian workers who enter Israel through Eyal Crossing.

As Lori Lowenthal Marcus of the Jewish Press pointed out, the “restrictions” pertain to “only” stopping at Palestinian towns in the territories, where Jews don’t live.

Urquhart continues:

Information on the new services, which are operated by the company Afikim, have reportedly only been advertised in Arabic and distributed only in Palestinian areas of the West Bank.

However, if the goal of the new bus line is to improve service for Palestinians living in the West Bank but working in Israel, it would certainly make sense to advertise the lines in Palestinian towns, and only in Arabic.

Again, Urquhart:

Palestinians used to use Palestinian minibuses and taxis to travel into Israel but Israel has increased the number of permits it gives to Palestinians which has led to more mixing on shared routes.

Indeed, Palestinians were dependent upon transportation services by unauthorized Arab companies which charged far more than the new Israeli lines do, and Urquhart, further in his report, quotes the Transportation Ministry official making a similar point.

For example, the public fare for Palestinians traveling to Raanana is reportedly 5.1 shekels (roughly $1.35), and to Tel Aviv will cost 10.6 shekels ($2.85). This is compared to roughly 40 shekels ($10.75) that passengers have been charged by the private transportation services.

Additionally, Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz was quoted in Israel HaYom as explaining that “Palestinians were permitted to use any public bus line they wished, including the ones used by settlers.”

Lowenthal Marcus makes the additional point:

The new bus lines are not, as the misleading headlines suggest, only for Arab Palestinians, the restriction they have is that they only stop at Arab towns in the territories, where – few would disagree – Jews with or without special identification would not dare go for fear – a legitimate one – of physical violence.  The fact remains that any Israeli citizens, Jewish, Christian or Zoroastrians, who live in the “Jewish” towns, were able to and did use the pre-existing bus lines.

As Seth Frantzman observed in the Jerusalem Post today:

The website of the bus company, Ofakim, shows that the No. 211 bus route begins near Kalkilya and travels to Tel Aviv with stops in Petah Tikvah, Bnei Brak and elsewhere. It doesn’t indicate that it is a “Palestinian only” bus or that Jews may not ride it. Ofakim claimed “We are not allowed to refuse service and we will not order anyone to get off the bus.”

Frantzman also argued that “nothing obvious prevents Arabs from commuting to a bus stop near a large Jewish community, to take a bus serving Ariel for instance.” He added that “there is no ‘segregation,’ no ‘separate but equal.’ No one is ‘sitting at the back.’”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/cifwatch/the-media-and-the-palestinian-only-bus-lines/2013/03/07/

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