Merav Michaeli
Merav Michaeli Hezki Baruch/Israel National News

On Sunday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli issued a joint statement regarding public transportation, just hours after a quasi-nationwide bus strike saw hundreds of bus journeys cancelled during rush hour, between six and nine o'clock this morning.

"The Cabinet, today (Sunday, 26 June 2022), approved Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Transport Minister Merav Michael’s "One Million” plan to reduce private car use by 5%, which is one million trips per day, within a year," the statement reads.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett then stated:

"The ‘One Million’ plan is a significant message to the Israeli public. The goal of the program is to reduce the use of private vehicles and to encourage the use of public transportation to alleviate traffic congestion in the short- and medium-term. I thank the Minister of Transport and all partners in the government who contributed to this initiative."

Minister of Transport and Road Safety Merav Michaeli MK added:

"We all feel the congestion on our roads, and today more than ever we understand that the solution goes further than public transport and using trains and buses, walking and cycling. The "One Million” plan is great news for Israelis that will bring an immediate reduction in the number of journeys made in private vehicles, and is the result of the wide-ranging policy of the Ministry of Transport under my leadership to upend the pyramid and to put public transportation at the top of our priorities. I would like to thank all those who have partnered with us, understood the magnitude of the problem and made an effort to ensure that this program was approved and will be implemented.”

According to the government, the purpose of the program is "to reduce the use of private vehicles and to encourage the use of public transport in order to reduce congestion on the roads."

The plan was formulated together with the "Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Finance, government ministries and other public bodies," and "includes dozens of measures to correct the distortions that incentivize the use of private vehicles, along with strengthening the various modes of public transport and accelerating projects to reduce journeys by private vehicle.

"The program is divided into several areas: improving the public transport system, eliminating incentives for owning a private car, changes in the world of work, and accelerating processes.

The main points of the program are:

- Establishing 120 km of public transport routes throughout the country, enforced for the first time by an enforcement unit on designated interurban routes.

- Improving the conditions of public transport drivers, including improved personal security, establishing another 100 restrooms for drivers in addition to dozens that have already been established, and directing money from the Ministry of Transport budget, currently being negotiated, to improve employment conditions.

- Extension of public transport provision, already budgeted in the last budget.

Cancellation of incentives for private car ownership:

- For the first time, public sector employees will be entitled to ‘transport’ payments identical to 'car maintenance' payments, without having to own a private vehicle, as well as giving priority to using public transportation.

- This step will actually result to an additional NIS 1,000 for each civil servant who chooses not to have their own car.

Changes in the world of work:

- Promoting a program to encourage shared travel by tens of millions of passengers.

- "No journey, no charge": Working with the Capital Market Authority to create benefits for those who do not use their cars on a daily basis.

- Expanding the possibilities for working remotely in the public sector.

- Increased provision of public transport to places of work.

Acceleration of projects:

- Extension of working hours for public transport projects.

- In cooperation with the Israel Police, rapid removal of road hazards such as accidents and other obstacles to improve traffic flows.

- Working with Israeli innovation: accelerating trials of transportation technologies such as smart traffic lights, traffic management centers, vehicle counting and drone projects.

- Accelerating implementation of digital services by all government ministries, reducing the need to travel to receive service.

- Transport literacy for future generations: education for public transport, riding and walking from kindergarten and school.