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
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
"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
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
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.