Daily Israel Report

Bus Company to Pay for 'Choking' Passengers

Passengers at 'the most polluted site in Israel' can expect some cash relief, a Jerusalem court ruled.
By Moshe Cohen
First Publish: 4/10/2014, 8:08 AM

Jerusalem Bus Station
Jerusalem Bus Station
Flash 90

Jerusalemites and travelers to the city who regularly transit through the Jerusalem Central Bus Station will be getting a bit of a windfall, after the Jerusalem Civil Court ruled that passengers would be compensated for the high levels of air pollution in the bus station.

The ruling is a the result of a class-action lawsuit by a group of bus riders, who claimed that their health was being damaged as they waited for buses in the station's third-floor enclosed depot area. In a study earlier this year, the Health Ministry named the bus station the most polluted site in Israel.

The problem, said the Ministry, was the very high level of air pollution on the third floor of the depot, where buses depart from, and where passengers board buses. The area is enclosed and is poorly ventilated, and the depot's management have yet to install a proper air filtration system. When measurements were taken last October, the Ministry said, pollution levels at the depot were the highest recorded for any location ever in Israel.

The Ministry said it had already fined the depot's management over NIS 700,000 ($200,000) for the violations, but the payment has not been forthcoming – and as a result, the Ministry is sending a collection agency after the depot's management.

On Wednesday, the Court ruled that the station's management, as well as the Egged bus company, which operates all the routes into and out of the station, needed to take immediate steps to protect travelers. The steps would require installing filters and other “appropriate equipment,” hiring pollution inspectors, posting signs warning of the high pollution, and other requirements.

In addition, the Court said, passengers would be compensated for being forced to tolerate the unhealthy circumstances. The Court did not specify how the compensation would be distributed; transportation experts said that it would probably come in the form of a discount on bus fares.