Ness Ziona joins Tel Aviv-area intercity public transit service on Shabbat

Central city’s mayor says initiative, which includes several other municipalities, ‘aligns with the principles of equality and individual freedom’

A public bus operated on Shabbat drives through Tel Aviv, November 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
A public bus operated on Shabbat drives through Tel Aviv, November 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The central city of Ness Ziona announced it was joining an initiative spearheaded by Tel Aviv and surrounding suburbs that provides intercity public transportation on Shabbat.

The municipal council voted Tuesday to join the bus service, dubbed “We move on weekends,” with city hall touting the increased access Ness Ziona residents will have to Tel Aviv and its attractions during weekends.

“Soon you can leave your car parked and save on gas, cabs, traffic jams, parking troubles, and ride to Tel Aviv on the weekend — for free,” the municipality said in a statement.

It added that it would announce a launch date soon for the transportation service, which first began operating in 2019.

“This project aligns with the principles of equality and individual freedom. It ensures that no one will remain behind because of their economic situation or transportation limitations,” Mayor Shmuel Boxer said.

The municipalities already taking part in the initiative are Givatayim, Hod Hasharon, Modiin-Maccabim-Re’ut, Kiryat Ono, Ramat Hasharon, Shoham and Tel Aviv-Jaffa.

In Israel, buses and trains do not generally run in Jewish-majority cities on Friday night and Saturday before sundown. The practice was born of an agreement reached between the ultra-Orthodox community and Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, before the formation of the state.

Public transportation on Shabbat is strongly opposed by the Orthodox establishment, while secular Israelis have long chafed at their restricted mobility during the weekend.

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