Government ministries, the Knesset, and Tel Aviv City Hall have agreed to introduce a congestion charge that would see motorists paying NIS 25-50 per day (roughly $7-15) in order to enter Tel Aviv. This means that people who work in Tel Aviv 20 days per month will need to pay a monthly total of NIS 500-1,000 (approximately $150-300.)
The Transportation Ministry presented Wednesday its plan to introduce the fee to the Knesset's House Committee. Ministry Director General Gideon Siterman estimated that the charge will be in place by the end of 2009. However, he noted that Tel Aviv's public transportation system will have to be improved before the scheme is implemented.
Traffic nightmare – Tel Aviv (Photo: Gabi Menashe)
At this time, officials are looking into three alternatives for implementing the plan. The most modest approach would only include central Tel Aviv, while the other two approaches would include extensive areas in nearby cities, including Ramat Gan, Bnei Brak, and Petah Tikva.
Officials say the plan aims to counter heavy traffic in Tel Aviv, encourage Israelis to use public transportation, and fight pollution.
However, Knesset Member Ophir Pines-Paz slammed the government's conduct in relation to implementing the congestion charge plan, noting that officials started looking into it more than 10 years ago.
"Start implementing – you forgot why you exist. It's impossible that a committee completed its work 10 years ago and nothing happened since then," he said. "If you were working in the private sector, all of you would be fired."