Public transport in Israel2019-08-21T08:31:56+00:00

Public transport in Israel

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Israel suffers from serious road congestion. Commute time in the OECD averaged at 13.9 minutes in each direction between 1999 and 2014. All while Israel holds the second-highest commute time after South Korea, with 26 minutes in each direction. In a 52-countries survey, Israeli drivers spend the most time on the roads (for all purposes), with an average time of 97 minutes total. The road time for the rest of the surveyed countries averaged at 69 minutes. Though Israel reduced its’ commute time from 28 minutes to 24 minutes between 2002 and 2009, it increased to 29 by 2017. In many people’s eyes, public transport is the answer to that – Buses and trains can take many more commuters more efficiently, and so reduce traffic, and therefore general commute time.

In Israel, buses are managed by regional tenders, out of which legacy operators Egged and Dan collectively control more than 50% of the regions. Currently, they are protected from being challenged in a tender, but the government’s plan is to change this by 2020. These tenders, conducted by the ministry of transportation, encompasses all aspects in exact detail, leaving no room for autonomy or ad-hoc judgment over arising issues. This creates a very rigid system, in which empty buses go alongside overcrowded ones.

Israel also suffers from discoordination between governmental bodies. While real estate planning authorities focus on suburban buildings, this is problematic from a transportation point of view. This creates a situation in which heavy subsidies are spent on inefficient transportation, which can provide no incentive to anyone leaving their private vehicle. All while using roads is completely free, with no congestion fee of any kind except in the BOT-modelled road no. 6.

There are several solutions to these problems:

  1. Decentralization of public transport. In most of the western countries, public transport is managed at the metropolitan level, not the national one. This should be the case in Israel as well.
  2. Synchronization between planning authorities in real estate and transport.
  3. Competition between lines. In London, there are many parallel routes which directly compete with each other. Incentivizing the operators based on a number of users, while allowing competition can greatly increase the quality of service.
  4. Congestion fees. Charging people for road use and less fuel use can greatly reduce traffic and congestion. This will also favor rural, peripheral Israel, which is a national priority for the Israeli government.
  5.   RIdesharing. Allowing companies such as Uber, Lyft, and allowing legal ridesharing with a full price in Israel would prioritize fuller privates on the road, and so will increase efficiency and reduce traffic.

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