Bus (illustrative)
Bus (illustrative)iStock

A heated meeting took place Sunday between the administration of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, residents, and representatives of Elektra-Afikim, the bus company that operates the bus routes to Gush Etzion and surrounding settlements.

During the meeting, Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne'eman, noted that, “Waiting for a bus in Gush Etzion is more like trying to hitch rides than organized public transportation.”

Residents of Gush Etzion and surrounding areas expressed their outrage towards Elektra Afikim, claiming that the buses frequently do not come as scheduled, many arrive late, and above all, there is no serious response from the company’s head office.

Shlomo Ne'eman, told the company directors that those who suffer most are the frontier communities, where there are fewer vehicle owners and therefore fewer chances of hitching a ride. This leads to hundreds of families trapped in their small towns with no way out, and not knowing when the next bus will come, if at all.

“The Gush has many residents who have no transport other than buses,” he emphasized. “They are completely dependent on public transport. When they phone your call center, they get no reply most of the time. We cannot take it any longer. We are talking about a situation that is extremely difficult for our residents.”

Tal Cohen, CEO of Elektra Afikim, who was present at the meeting with his staff, met with the residents at the request of Ne'eman. He conveyed his apologies and promised that the situation would improve in a short amount of time. He told them that since he commenced his position as CEO two months previously, he has been focused on working on improving the service in Gush Etzion.

Cohen said that the company recently recruited 11 additional drivers for the region, some of whom are Gush Etzion residents. The company has also purchased armored buses to add to its current fleet, which will help relieve the situation.

Tal Cohen also related that he receives regular reports each day with respect to the activity in the Gush, and he hopes that the situation will take a significant turn for the better within the coming weeks.

“You deserve service, and for that service to be implemented,” he stressed. He closed with a promise to hold another meeting in six weeks’ time to ascertain whether they indeed notice an improvement in the situation.

Ne'eman thanked the company CEO and concluded: “We have noted the goodwill conveyed by Elektra Afikim and the efforts they are undertaking, and we hope to see a change soon.”