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 municipality on Thursday announced that its weekend transportation system will operate on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year).

Rosh Hashanah will begin Monday evening, September 6, and end after nightfall on Wednesday, September 8.

The transportation system will operate throughout the holiday in the cities of Givatayim, Kiryat Ono, Yehud-Monosson, Ramat Hasharon, Shoham, and Tel Aviv-Jaffa.

Mayors of the participating cities expressed their joy at their cities' participation in the controversial initiative.

Israel Gal, Mayor of Kiryat Ono, said: "The expansion of the weekend transportation program to [include] the days of Rosh Hashanah symbolizes for me the return of sanity to our lives."

Eitan Pettigrew, Shoham Council Head, said, "The expansion of the weekend transportation service to [include] the Tishrei holidays is amazing news."

Jewish law does not allow the operation of electricity or electronics on Shabbat, nor does it allow the use of vehicles, other than for life-and-death emergencies. Traditionally, Israeli cities have respected Jewish law and refrained from operating public transportation on Shabbat and Jewish holidays. However, Tel Aviv and a few other cities have forced bus drivers to work on Shabbat and holidays, in an effort to provide accessible transportation for those residents who wish to utilize it.

Tel Aviv began operating public transportation, also known as "Shabbat buses," on Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) in 2019. The Shabbat buses are free for residents and funded by the municipalities, in what religious residents say is a discriminatory use of property tax payments.

Taxi drivers have also complained about the initiative, saying that it cut their weekend income by 30%.