Mayor of Tel Aviv Ron Huldai beside one of the Shabbat buses
Mayor of Tel Aviv Ron Huldai beside one of the Shabbat busesMiriam Alster/FLASH90

The Tel Aviv District Court on Monday suggested that the Ramat Gan municipality examine options to reduce the operation of the "Shabbat buses."

The buses, which began operating on Friday nights and Saturdays two weeks ago, are offered free to passengers thanks to funding from the municipality and residents' property taxes.

Suggestions included reducing the number of bus stops, as well as reducing the frequency of the lines.

At the beginning of the hearing, attorney Dr. Yehiel Weinrot, who represented those complaining against the Shabbat buses, noted that the buses' operation is illegal even according to the municipality's understanding of the matter.

The fact that the Shabbat buses stop at bus stops is against the law, Weinrot explained, since those stops are intended only for public transportation, and the Shabbat buses do not fit the criteria for official public transportation, even according to the municpality itself.

Weinrot based his claims on a 2008 ruling from Israel's Supreme Court.

When the municipality tried to claim that buses have a permit from Israel Police to stop at official bus stops, Weiinrot said: "I am not familiar with the police's authority to allow criminal activity."

He added that the municipality had not presented such a permit, leading the court to throw out the claim.

The municipality has requested 14 days to issue a written response, a request granted by the court.

For its part, the court recommended that the Ramat Gan municipality examine the option of reducing the Shabbat buses' operation and frequency.

A follow-up hearing will be held in six weeks.