Congestion tax, Rav Kav levies before massive transport budget plan

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Israel’s new budget, if approved, will lay the groundwork for a massive overhaul of transport and infrastructure over the next few years. But several controversial plans to increase payments for services have angered citizens.
A record budget of NIS 35 billion for 2021 and NIS 38 billion. for 2022 has been approved, along with a comprehensive five-year investment plan of 7.5 billion shekels. to improve public transport.

Taxi drivers at Ben-Gurion Airport will protest Wednesday evening against an approved reform in the new Israeli state budget, taking no passengers, according to Israeli media. The new taxi reform is expected to reduce the price of taxis in Israel.

Taxi drivers say the new reform will hurt their income and spark protests because the finance ministry and transport ministry have failed to address their concerns.

Earlier this week, the cabinet approved the finance ministry’s proposal for the state budget for 2021-2022. The Knesset Finance Committee is now preparing it for the Knesset Plenum, where it is due to be promulgated after three readings by November 4.

One of the most controversial clauses in the new budget is a new “congestion tax” to be launched in 2024, requiring drivers to pay to enter the Gush Dan area in private vehicles at certain times. Transport Minister Merav Michaeli was originally opposed to the idea, but has now embraced it as a quick, short-term solution to Tel Aviv’s traffic problems and as a source of funding for other projects. transport.

Another plan that has infuriated bus and train users is a decision to cancel around NIS 250 million in state subsidies for public transport. This would include removing the “accumulated value” bonus for people using Rav Kav cards, which adds additional credits each time a multi-trip payment is made. The finance ministry argues that these benefits – originally intended to entice passengers to pay for multiple trips instead of single tickets – are no longer relevant.

The scope of the projects that these cuts will help fund is enormous. The biggest project on the list is the massive NIS 150b. metro project to be built throughout Gush Dan.

This includes the creation of three new underground metro lines stretching over 145 km. and 24 municipalities, connecting Tel Aviv with Givat Shmuel in the west, Ra’anana in the north and Holon in the south. Excavations for the country’s largest infrastructure project are set to begin in 2025, with operations slated for around 2032. This adds to several light rail lines currently under construction in the Tel Aviv area.

Among other infrastructure investments, around 3.5 billion shekels. will be invested over the next five years in the construction of 30 bus stations with 2,500 electric charging stations. Some NIS 6b. will be invested in paving transit routes, and 3,500 buses will be purchased over the next five years, 2,500 of which will be electric. To support this, thousands of new bus and train drivers will be trained, with a budget of NIS 220 million.

In addition, no more NIS 2b. will be devoted to improving roads, sidewalks, public transport and other infrastructure in Arab cities over the next five years. And another NIS 2b. will be invested over five years to create safe and efficient cycle paths across the country.

About NIS 1b. will invest in improving road safety, including improving high-risk roads.

The sum of 90 million shekels. will be invested in improving accessibility to public transport. This will include 10 intercity bus lines with new wheelchair accessible buses that have never been used in Israel before, according to the Ruderman Family Foundation’s Link20 network, which advocates for people with disabilities.

The government will also set up an execution unit for intercity traffic to ensure rapid travel. 100m NIS. will be spent on improving information and ticketing systems, as well as NIS 250 million. for three years for traffic management systems.

“It is the first transport budget that has a vision of freedom of movement and equality, a budget that not only serves drivers of private vehicles but also pedestrians, passengers, commuters, the elderly, the disabled. , Jews, Arabs, Druze and cyclists, ”Michaeli said after the budget was approved. “The first stop on the trail is approaching.”


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