Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sha-Bus Rider

Erela Ganan

Lately, we have witnessed growing civic activity aimed at expanding the operating time of public transportation to include service on Shabbat. But will there be significant demand for a Shabbat bus? 

To find out, we can first look at the number of people using public transport on weekdays. In its last census (conducted in 2008), the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) found that 41% of the workers in the country commuted to work using alternative modes of transportation, rather than their own private car: 1,115,900 people traveled to work via bus, train, shuttle, taxi, bike, or simply walked. In Jerusalem, the rate is even higher, at 50%. In addition, public transport is used by thousands of school children, soldiers, students, elderly people and others, but data on these groups' rate of use are missing. 

Second, we want to find out the public's position on travel during Shabbat. In the CBS' social survey of 2009, which focused on religion, 53% of the Jewish respondents aged 20 and over stated they support activation of public transport on Shabbat. It is important to note that non-Jewish people, who are not likely to object to Shabbat buses, comprise 25% of Israel's residents, and 38% of Jerusalem's population.

Jewish respondents who stated they were traditional or secular were asked if they ride on Shabbat (observant Jews were assumed to avoid it). Eighty-seven percent of the traditional-loosely observant answered that they do not (or scarcely do) avoid traveling on Shabbat, and surprisingly, as many as 42% of the traditional-observant also stated they do not (or scarcely do) avoid it. Altogether, 84% of these populations stated they do not stay away from traveling on Shabbat, which means that 45% of the Jewish public aged 20 and over in Israel, or 2.5 million people, do not avoid it. This, along with the fact that 41% of the workers use alternative transit to commute to work (as stated above), leads us to assume that approximately 18% of the people in these groups are potential clients for public transportation, should it run on the 61 days every year that it ceases to function – weekends and Jewish holidays (not including Yom Kippur). This population sums up to over a million persons. In the meantime, those who are Jerusalemites can use the East Jerusalem transportation system, active seven days a week.




Source: Central Bureau of Statistics