Ministry of Transportation launches 35 new bus lines in Arab...
Ministry of Transportation launches 35 new bus lines in Arab localities
On September 25th, the Ministry of Transportation announced the launch of 35 new bus lines connecting Arab localities to major cities, business and employment centers, and institutions of higher education, in the north and the Negev. The new bus lines, estimated at NIS 125 million per year, represent a significant step forward in addressing the issue of limited access to public transportation in Arab localities, some of which have no public transportation infrastructure in place.
New routes include one between Nazareth and Acre, Kfar Manda and Haifa, Sakhnin and Jordan Valley College, and the village of I’blin and Karmiel Industrial Zone.
In addition to these new bus lines, the ministry is increasing daily service and lengthening routes to include more stops on existing bus lines in Arab localities. In the formal statement made last Sunday, the ministry announced that by the end of 2016 they will have launched 35 new lines, lengthened the routes of 35 lines, and increased daily service of 30 lines.
This launch is part of the Ministry of Transportation’s workplan within Government Resolution 922, the historic Economic Development Plan for the Arab Sector, which has allocated NIS 1.5 billion to “clos[e] all service gaps by 2022.” The workplan includes the addition of hundreds of transportation lines as well as the expansion and improvement of existing ones . Concurrently, the ministry will continue to develop roads and other transportation infrastructure in Arab towns.
Minister of Transportation, Israel Katz, emphasized the importance of investing in transportation to aid in the integration of Arab, Druze, and Bedouin citizens into Israeli society. He added that closing the service gap in transportation will enhance employment opportunities for residents of Arab localities, especially for women for whom the lack of access to public transportation options has been a major barrier to employment.
The ministry also announced the launch of an Arabic-language App that provides passengers with information on bus routes, schedules, and arrival times and will unveil a corresponding Arabic-language informational campaign to explain this new service and encourage its use in Arab localities.
Sikkuy, which has been monitoring transportation issues in Arab localities, commended the ministry for the launch of these new bus lines while drawing attention to remaining disparities in public transportation services between Jewish and Arab communities, specifically the lack of internal bus lines in Arab localities connecting residents to inter-city bus lines and the absence of Arabic on signage for bus stops.