Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced on Wednesday that following the government's decision to restrict public transportation as part of the measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus, all train traffic will be brought to a halt
“This is a crisis unlike any other Israel has dealt with since its establishment,” said Smotrich, "Stay at home and with god’s help we will get through these times with minimal casualties.”
Smotrich also said Israel Railways will use this hiatus in order to invest hundreds of millions in expediting various infrastructure projects.
"This will be the best possible use for the hiatus,” said Smotrich. “Israel Railways said that while passenger trains will cease their work, cargo trains will keep operating as usual in order to expedite infrastructure projects.”
The government decided on Wednesday to radically limit public transportation, but not completely in order to provide transportation to workers in vital positions, even though the number of passengers has decreased dramatically over the past two weeks.
According to the new government orders, public transportation will work at a 25% capacity and companies will see that overcrowded bus lines will be reinforced.
“I’m glad common sense has prevailed, as long as some parts of the economy are still working, it is critical that public transportation keeps functioning,” said Smotrich. ”Public transport will be reduced to the bare minimum, I call on the public to refrain from using it unless absolutely necessary.”
“In case the economy shuts down further, public transport will only be shut down after a suitable replacement has been provided for both vital workers and weaker populations to stock up on food and provisions.”
The Jerusalem light rail will continue to operate as usual, while the Carmelit underground train in Haifa has already ceased all its activities on Tuesday.
The National Public Transport Authority called on all public transport operators to prepare for the coming changes and to adhere to the guidelines that instruct drivers to equip personal disinfectants including alcohol.
The public is requested to adhere to the instructions as well, and use public transport only if necessary while maintaining as much distance as possible from other passengers.