Regev: I’ll weigh scrapping highway public transportation lanes, congestion fee plan

Transportation minister says she’ll also cancel electric vehicle tax, push regulations to stop children being forgotten in cars: ‘I didn’t come here to apologize, I came to govern’

Likud's Miri Regev at a ceremony at the Transportation Ministry in Jerusalem, on June 14, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Likud's Miri Regev at a ceremony at the Transportation Ministry in Jerusalem, on June 14, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Transportation Minister Miri Regev said Monday that she planned to reexamine intercity public transportation lanes, while vowing to scrap the planned introduction of a congestion charge in the Tel Aviv area.

Regev said the introduction of the plan under predecessor Merav Michaeli had resulted in people “getting stuck in traffic while the public transportation lanes were empty,” according to the Ynet news site.

The newly reinstated minister cited the public transportation lanes on Route 1 between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, as well as on the Ayalon Highway and other major arteries in the central region.

The establishment of more public transportation lanes was aimed at encouraging fewer commuters to use their cars, to aid the environment and reduce congestion. However, the decrease in the number of lanes for general use had led to longer waits in traffic for those taking their cars.

Regev also said she would scrap the previous government’s plan to impose a congestion charge for vehicles entering the Tel Aviv region.

“I didn’t come to apologize, we came to govern,” she was quoted as saying by Channel 12 news.

“The periphery should not subsidize Tel Aviv. The introduction of such a charge will lead to an additional expenditure of hundreds of shekels for families who live in the periphery and work in Tel Aviv, in addition to the already high expenses for cars, fuel and more,” she said.

Traffic piles up on the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv, July 24, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

A number of major cities around the world have introduced congestion charges, which reduce pollution and traffic in city centers. The charges are often hailed as a success when coupled with a strong and effective public transportation system.

Regev also said she will cancel the tax on electric vehicles: “It is impossible for the state to say ‘we are in favor of them’ and then impose a tax.” Electric vehicles are already taxed at a significantly lower rate than traditional cars.

In addition, Regev said she would resurrect a plan to compel the installation of safety equipment in vehicles aimed at preventing further tragedies of children forgotten in cars, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

Regulations proposed by Regev during her previous tenure would require the installation of an electronic alarm system on car seats for children up to the age of four that automatically alerts parents if a kid is left in the chair.

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli speaks at a Labor faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, December 12, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Critics said Regev had only approved a small number of systems for use under the regulation, rendering it particularly expensive and raising questions over the selection of the companies.

As a result, Michaeli requested that the implementation of the regulation be delayed, but no alternative plan was brought in.

A number of children die in Israel ever year and many are hurt as a result of being forgotten in cars during the summer months.

At a faction meeting of her center-left Labor party, Michaeli responded to Regev, saying that the previous Likud-led governments had invested far less in Israel’s peripheral communities.

“You came to govern? You spread false messages as soon as you took office,” Michaeli charged.

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