The Tel Aviv City Council is set to meet Monday night to discuss plans to enact public transportation in the city on Shabbat.
Deputy Mayor Assaf Zamir said in an interview with Army Radio that he was in favor of running buses in the city on Shabbat, “It's actually simple: You're allowed to drive in the city on Shabbat, and the only ones who are unable to go anywhere are those who cannot afford their own vehicles.”
"It's unfair to them not to run the buses on Shabbat," Zamir said.
One of the reasons Tel Aviv traffic is so bad, Zamir says, is because there is no public transportation on Shabbat.
“Even if there were to be a perfect mass transit system, with buses and trains, all ready to go tomorrow, it would not reduce the dependence of residents on vehicles, since the public transportation system would be closed on Shabbat. If people had access to public transport every day they could dispense with their vehicles,” Zamir said in the interview.
“We have water and electricity on Shabbat, restaurants and cafes operate as well. Public transportation is also a basic public service," he added.
With that, Zamir said, in order for public transport to be allowed to operate on Shabbat, several laws would have to be changed, and that was a job for Knesset. As such, any declaration made by the City Council would be strictly declaratory. “It's up to the Transport Ministry, not the city,” Zamir said. “It should be noted that several minibus lines, as well as sherut taxis and the city's bicycle lending system, operate on Shabbat.”
Last week, Arutz Sheva quoted Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai as approving of the idea of public transportation on Shabbat.
Huldai said, “Israel is the only country in the world where public transportation does not operate a quarter of the year, when you take Shabbat and holidays into consideration. What is someone who cannot afford a car supposed to do if they want to visit their family or go to the beach on Shabbat?"
"The current situation is creating a problem for the development of the city,” he added.