The Tel Aviv municipality on Tuesday announced plans to launch public transportation on Shabbat, for the first time connecting Israel’s central metropolises on the Jewish day of rest.
The municipality said the project, in cooperation with the cities of Givatayim, Kiryat Ono and Ramat Hasharon, will include some seven lines transporting people for free.
It is estimated to cost NIS 12.5 million ($3.5 million) during the first year and costs may rise as other towns potentially join.
Other cities recently announced their intentions to begin providing public transport on Saturdays, including Ramat Gan and Ganei Tikva. Earlier this year a free Saturday bus line was launched in the northern town of Tiberias.
Public transport on Shabbat is strongly opposed by Israel’s religious establishment. Meanwhile secular Israelis have long chafed at the lack of mobility on their day off unless they own a car.
“The aim is to provide a solution to the growing public demand to find a solution to the transportation problem and provide alternative transportation and help reduce the dependence of Tel Aviv residents on private cars,” said Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai.
“This will help lower the cost of living, help ease traffic congestion and parking shortages and allow mobility to (economically) weaker groups who do not have private vehicles,” he said.
The Ynet news site reported last week the Shas and United Torah Judaism parties plan to demand legislation blocking the initiatives as a precondition to joining any government.