Chaos reigned across Israel on Monday as the new public transportation tariffs reform, meant to make commuting more affordable, went into effect.
Transport Ministry's "Equal Commute" reform was launched on Sunday at midnight, and Monday morning brought with it a wave of nationwide complaints of bugs in the dedicated tickets app.
According to the passengers, the joint fare collection system smart card that was supposed to offer discounts, was not working on buses, with electronic ticket monitor on buses asking the passengers to pay full price for rides.
Transport Minister Merav Michaeli addressed the matter during the opening event of the reform plan at the Be'er Sheva Central Station, promising, "everything will run like clockwork very soon."
The "Equal Commute" reform, drafted by Michaeli and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, aims to encourage the public to use public transportation instead of private vehicles, hoping to minimize traffic on the roads.
The new reform allows its passengers unlimited travel via any bus route in Israel for a constant price of NIS 225, and can also be used on light rails.
After purchasing the dedicated card, the monthly fee is determined by how frequently the individual is using the train or the bus, and the amount of kilometers he or she travels. The fee starts at 99 NIS and capping at 610 NIS - for those who use the train more frequently and travel longer distances.
"The reform has certainly not gone underway, The SuperBus and Afikim devices do not recognize the card and aren't prepared for the reform," said one of the unsatisfied passengers. "We had to pay the full price for the ride."
Another woman told of her experience using the card for the first time, saying, "there is a national bug. Turns out that the transportation companies do not recognize the free monthly national card, so passengers are forced to also pay for the ride, in short - it's chaos."
Irena Pearl Caplan traveled to Haifa this morning, and reported similar problems. "They just didn't prepare for the reforms, their system isn't working," she said.
"I'm not satisfied with the reform because it makes my monthly pass cost 225 NIS instead of 208 NIS and I'm angry because I purchased the free monthly national card, I prepared, and apparently they didn't."
Michaeli said in the opening event this morning that "public transportation is our future. We're investing in order to save you all from the traffic and towards a worthwhile journey.
"When about 12 thousand buses are given new data, new tariffs, several buses have bugs," she said, addressing the technical problems.
"We're fixing it. It makes sense that there's a bug. The farther away the destination the more worthwhile it will be to use public transportation. Only the peripheral areas offer a pass for 99 NIS a month."
Nava Kessler, a senior citizen, complained that the pass meant for people aged 75 and up is difficult to operate.
"The ministry isn't answering with any substantial answer. This is not a reform that elderly people can operate by themselves," she claimed.
As part of the "Equal Way" reform, senior citizens over age 75 can use public transportation for free. To do so, they have to issue a "golden pass" or update their online profile through the website or application. Due to expected complications, the transportation ministry has called on the inspectors to allow the elderly population to access this reform even if they have yet to update their profile until August 18.
Director General of Ministry of Transportation Michal Frank said: "It doesn't need to be called chaos, rather labor pains. We're talking about more than 3.3 million rides a day. This is very significant. It influences many populations of Israel."
In this mornings opening event at Be'er Sheva, Frank said that "like in every software update there is a process of implementation. Overall the system works well. There are a few reports of bugs, and the public needs to get used to it."