Religion Magazine

Egged Canceling the "free" Bus from the Kotel on Motzei Shabbos Due to Lack of Repayment

By Gldmeier @gldmeier

With it being Thursday, I have decided that it is time to report on an article I saw a few days ago and have been sitting on.
Egged has been very forthcoming to the public, operating a bus line from the Kotel on the honor system. Many people go to the Kotel on Shabbos afternoon and stay there until after Shabbos. With no way home, because they have no money for a taxi or a bus, considering that they went to the Kotel on Shabbos, and no interest in walking home, Egged was petitioned, and acquiesced to allow people to ride the first buses from the Kotel on Motzei Shabbos (bus lines numbers 1, 2 and 3) without paying, and on the honor system they would pay on Sunday or within the next few days for the ride from the Kotel. Anyone with a monthly pass would obviously not have to repay the ride. This has been going on for a few good years.
Egged just announced that they are canceling that arrangement. No more free rides. No more honor system on Egged. Don't rely on the "free" bus from the Kotel immediately after Sahbbos.
How did this happen?
According to the report, a haredi activist and rav asked Egged why they do not give the transfer tickets to passengers on the Motzei Shabbos "free" bus from the Kotel. When you buy a bus ticket, you can use it to transfer, for free, to other bus lines (and supposedly the light rail) within a certain amount of time from the ticket purchase. Yet Egged never supplied those transfer tickets on the free Kotel bus lines. The question was, if people are paying for those tickets, albeit they are paying a day or two later, the tickets should also be transferable to other lines like any other normal bus ticket, and why are they not?

Egged's response was that they do not give the free transfers on those lines at those times because they have discovered that the overwhelming majority of passengers, Haredi passengers in their words, who used those "free" rides on the honor system do not actually come back and repay the ticket price at a later date. And therefore, Egged announced, they are planning on stopping the entire arrangement. They are taking too much of a loss on it.
Admittedly, some portion of the passengers have monthly passes and do not need to repay the ride later, but based on percentages and statistics including the percentages specifically in the Haredi community, a certain portion does not have monthly passes and must come in later to repay the ride. Yet they do not. Egged says only a small amount of individuals actually come in to repay the ride.
(source: Bechadrei)
So, if you go to the Kotel on Shabbos and plan to use the "free" Egged bus line, be aware that it looks like this is not going to exist for much longer...

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