Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

14 Cheshvan 5762 - October 31, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Bus 402 from Bnei Brak to Jerusalem Launched
by Betzalel Kahn

At the end of a prolonged battle, in the course of which the Kav Mehadrin bus line was launched, Egged and Dan began operating bus route number 402 between Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. Now that the Transportation Ministry has granted it the necessary permits, the line began running this Sunday, 11 Cheshvan (October 28).

At a press conference convened by the heads of the two bus companies in Jerusalem, along with members of Egged's advisory council on the chareidi sector, it was reported that bus 402 will begin its run at Har Chotzvim, from where it will make the following stops: Sanhedria junction, Bar Ilan Street, Yirmiyahu Street, Sarei Yisrael Street and the exit from the city. In Bnei Brak the route will be similar to that of the 400 bus until the end of Rabbi Akiva Street.

The first bus will leave at 10:30 in the morning and the last at 11:30 at night. Tickets will cost NIS 15, less than the 18 shekels charged for a ticket on the current 400 bus between Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. A two-way ticket will cost 25 shekels.

Arik Feldman, the chairman of Egged's secretariat, thanked UTJ's Knesset members for their help in launching the new line. He noted that the new line will meet the needs of the chareidi sector and added that the plans for the line were concluded at the end of an exhaustive discussion in Egged and Dan, held in conjunction with the advisory council for the chareidi sector and with the participation of the Mehadrin committee.

"Men and women will enter the bus from two separate doors and we hope that the new line will satisfy the chareidi sector, which is very important to us," Feldman said.

Itzik Kagan, Dan's spokesman, noted that the two cooperatives agreed on the importance of their activity amidst the chareidi sector. "We regard all the service we provide very seriously, and especially our service to the chareidi sector. We are familiar with the chareidi sector mainly from Bnei Brak and additional neighborhoods in the center of the country," he said.

Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, the chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee, said that public transportation is a very serious issue in chareidi families who use it considerably. He said that he would ask the Transportation Ministry to offer a monthly bus pass (Chofshi Chodshi) for youth too.

Ron Ratner, Egged's spokesman, noted that care will be taken not to play inappropriate radio programs on the loudspeakers of 402 buses, and that the possibility of being strict on this issue in other lines which primarily serve the chareidi sector is being examined.

Rabbi Yaakov Hesse, chairman of Egged's advisory council on the chareidi sector, cited the efforts of the council which led to the launching of the new line and to the arranging of appropriate public transportation for the chareidi sector.

Rabbi Micha Rothschild of the Vaad Mehadrin said that the new line will be examined from the point of view of effectiveness as a Mehadrin line, and that Egged should remove all the spiritual and educational pitfalls from the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem and from all the buses in the city. The Vaad Mehadrin also demands that similar mehadrin lines be launched in chareidi neighborhoods in Jerusalem

Activists from the Vaad Mehadrin, a grassroots group of chareidi representatives, have been negotiating with officials of the Egged Cooperative for the last eight years to implement a mehadrin bus line between Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. Negotiations were also conducted with representatives from the Transportation Ministry. However, the activists claim that they hit a brick wall, until recently.

In Israel, all bus stops, routes, and fares must be approved by the Ministry of Transportation. Non-authorized taxis and buses, which circumvent paying the expensive tariffs to the Ministry of Transportation, are colloquially known as chapperim.

The Vaad Mehadrin, which acts in accordance with the dictates of gedolei Yisroel, faced two challenges-- the failure to come to a settlement with the various parties; and the bureaucratic obstacles placed before the route's implementation. As a result of the obstacles, the Vaad Mehadrin decided to utilize an independent, shomer Shabbos bus company to operate a new Jerusalem-Bnei Brak route, mainly as a means to pressure the bus cooperatives and the Ministry of Transportation to run the 402 line.

The mehadrin route started operating a few weeks ago. Its unique features are that it does not stop at bus stops in the non-religious areas, the drivers do not turn on their radios, and men and women use separate doors.

The mehadrin line carried about 14,000 passengers during chol hamoed Succos. This seems to have jarred the other factors into taking action. The one-way price was only NIS 10 (about $2.32) as opposed to Egged and Dan's inter- city fare of NIS 18.50 (about $4.29). The independent line's fare is 46 percent cheaper, without government subsidies and it still made a profit.

Rabbi Micha Rothschild, one of the Vaad Mehadrin heads, said in an earlier interview, "Instead of the heads of the Transport Ministry meeting the minimal request of gedolei Yisroel, who demanded throughout the years to operate mehadrin lines for the chareidi public, the Ministry of Transportation continued with its scheming against the new mehadrin line. Transport Ministry inspectors--with police assistance--followed the buses, stopped the drivers, fined them thousands of shekels, and even wanted to suspend the company's operating license. Such a situation is intolerable. The chareidi public, which (almost) entirely utilizes public transportation, deserves a route run according to its values."

The other major issue was the use of the new Jerusalem Central Bus Station. Vaad Mehadrin officials requested that boarding for the 400 (and 402) bus to Bnei Brak be outside the new bus terminal. "We're talking about a shopping mall for all intents and purposes, with shops that display products that are unfit for a place which the chareidi public passes through daily. And it is located within a chareidi neighborhood," said Rabbi Micha Rothschild. "Approximately 300,000 chareidi Jews travel daily on Egged's transportation lines. The chareidi public pays Egged about half a billion shekels each year. It's about time that they consider the needs of this sector," he said.

Egged's Marketing Division responded to the allegations regarding the shopping mall in the Central Bus Station. It said that the shopping mall was built through a joint venture of several corporations. Egged, itself, does not own the building. "Egged rents the location from the Natzva Corporation. Egged has stipulated that all of the restaurants must obtain a hechsher of the Jerusalem Rabbinate. Because of this, it is waging a legal battle against McDonald's, which has delayed the bus station's opening, along with the restaurant's (opening), which is suing the Natzva Corporation for NIS 12 million."

Regarding other stores that aren't appropriate for the neighborhood, Mr. Yossi Chetches, together with Natzva's chairman, Meir Turgeman, have approached the problematic stores and the matter has been resolved.


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