Religious status quo undermined: The new transportation reform in central Israel, to go into effect July 1, will mean that buses that up until now were allowed to travel shortly before the Shabbat ends will no longer be able to do so.
The change, which was not mentioned in the Transportation Ministry announcements ahead of the change, will mean that at least four major routes will only resume their operations shortly after the Shabbat ends instead of a few hours before.
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Bus company representatives who were sent to bus stops throughout central Israel to inform passengers about the upcoming modifications also did not mention the Shabbat change.
Under the new scheme, some buses that previously started operating at roughly 6:30 PM will now be operating only starting at roughly 8:30 PM.
A similar initiative was rejected by the Knesset's Finance Committee some three years ago. At the time, Knesset Member Ran Cohen (Meretz) told Ynet that most people who use buses in the early evening hours Saturday require transportation for "super-humanitarian objectives."
"These are soldiers who need to return early from their weekend break, citizens traveling to see their relatives, and young people going to work in the evening," he said. "They do not do it in order to provoke anyone or deliberately, so this would be an outrageous, anti-social and anti-humane measure."
The religious status quo is a sensitive issue in Israel, with officials generally taking great care not to undermine traditions that have been adhered to for long years. Only recently, the Knesset rejected a proposal to allow regular bus traffic on Shabbat, with MK's citing the status quo as one of the reasons for rejecting the change.
The Transportation Ministry and the Dan Bus Company did not respond to a Ynet inquiry regarding the change. In the framework of the reform, some 70 bus routes will be cancelled, to be replaced by roughly 50 new routes.
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