'Free rides' for reserve soldiers are often not free

Reservists now receive travel coupons via the internet, but Egged doesn't always honor them. Egged claims they've received no complaints.

Shimon Cohen,

Soldiers boarding Egged bus
Soldiers boarding Egged bus

Jerusalem resident Shai Levy was called for reserve duty, but instead of receiving the notice by post as he had in previous years, he received it via the internet.

The internet site allows reservists to print "coupons" which will allow them to arrive at the designated army base without paying, but Levy says it's not that simple.

"I took my call-up notice and my travel coupons, and got on a [route] 437 bus to Julis," Levy said. "I showed the driver my coupon and my call-up notice, but without even glancing, he said he doesn't accept paper - he only accepts the old Egged permits."

"None of my explanations about how the new internet system works, or my requests that he read the papers, worked. He even threatened to put me off the bus and call the police if I refused to pay."

In the end, Levy had no choice but to pay for the trip. When he sat down "a reserve commander came over and said he takes this line every day and has seen at least three similar incidents, some of which turned into a screaming match."

Levy also said the driver had told him that he spoke to his bosses about the issue and was told the printed coupons are not acceptable - only the old-style coupons are.

"I spoke with the liaison officer, and told her about what happened," he said. "She told me a lot of soldiers have come to her with similar stories, and that Egged refuses to accept the new coupons and at the end of the day the reservists pay their own fares."

An Egged spokesperson responded, "We have not heard any complaints of this type, and our policy is to honor the reservists' coupons. Any complaints will be handled directly with the IDF and its liaison officers."