‘Competing’ bus companies don’t solve Jerusalem’s transportation ills
The first wrong thing must be that the civil servants who decide on public transport probably never saw a bus from the inside. They drive their comfortable, polluting, private cars and studied the subject theoretically.
One of them must have read that competition drives the prices down and quality up, so let’s have two bus companies ‘service’ Jerusalem.
This is absurd, of course. We don’t get two companies servicing the same routes. We get no alternatives. It used to be Egged in our neighborhood. It paid so poorly it never got enough drivers. It was willing to hire drivers from North Israel to keep its exclusive contract (but this failed) and paid them 5 days a week, hundreds of shekels per day, plus meals and hotel accommodation. While their local drivers were just the working poor.
Now we have Superbus. Where do they get their drivers? From North Israel. Same exorbitant pay. Yet, their selection process must be different. Many times, these drivers don’t reopen a door that quickly closed. Their silent buses race by without giving endlessly waiting passengers a chance to signal that they needed them. Their drivers are not interested to help the passengers find their destination. Not only don’t they know the city, but they also don’t ask others on the bus to help. Different from the Egged reinforcements, they are cold and uninterested with few exceptions.
Superbus ‘customer service’ lied to me that arrival times at stations by law don’t need to be accurate and the machines are owned by Egged so they are not responsible. In fact, they took months to enter all the bus stations into their database and that was the real reason for their blind dates.
Luckily, the self-driving bureaucrats again changed bus numbers and routes so that we will never be bored or up to date.
Unrelated, Egged (like Dan) just turned from a cooperative into a privately owned company. The new owner bought out the shareholding bus drivers for big money. Capitalism won again. It will get worse before it gets better.
This week, I needed a bus from the city center to my neighborhood, a 20-25-minute ride. One Superbus line failed twice its promise of a bus in 8 minutes, and then announced there would be one in 25 minutes. I walked to a stop with two Superbus lines of 35-40-minute rides. The faster bus would come in 20+, the slower in 7 minutes. Indeed, the latter did arrive in 12 minutes. I got home in 70 minutes, a total waiting time of 30 minutes.
My biggest worry is that this disservice will become the new norm. That in the end, we get Egged functioning like Superbus. Thank you, capitalism.
All public transportation should be free and drivers should get a fair salary.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transportation has misled us by claiming that they added a faster bus from the South of Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.
In reality, they cut the frequency of bus 405 in half, making that leave every 40 minutes. And the new line 490 comes every half an hour.
The advantage is wholly for Jerusalem’s cable bridge city exit as we not don’t stand in a traffic jam there but in a different jam on our way to the new tunnel roads from South Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. We win no time, but we lose time if we miss our bus coming only every 30 or 40 minutes.
Talking of which, want the 405 back to Jerusalem? You need to enter the ruin that’s called the new central bus station, go to the sixth floor from where it says the 405 is leaving, but you see neither busses nor waiting people. Turns out, they never took down the old signs. You need to go one more floor up, but not to the doors to the buses there. Cross that floor to the other side, get outside, and cross an unlit, unmarked stretch of bus exit lanes until you arrive at a different terminal from where the 405 takes off. If there would not be sporadic people hanging out there telling you, you’d never know. The system has no respect for the passengers.
Or, go to the old train station and take the 480 to Jerusalem. Or the new 490. Oh, not so. The 490 doesn’t go at night. It neither operates in Fridays. Literally, thanks for nothing.
One more thing about the great works of the Transportation Ministry. They renumber bus lines, take away bus routes, or redirect them, with no profit to the passengers. They took away a wonderful bus Egged 34, decades ago. They now created out of the blue Superbus 506, same route. I see myself waiting for a bus for 20 years. How’s that for frequency? Bus 71 would service Gilo A, and bus 72 would do Gilo B, together with 32. Now, 71 does A and B and 72 does neither. Bus 32 was given to Superbus and renumbered 92. It’s the only bus to where I often need to go, the main route out of Gilo. There are 7 other buses that don’t go there. So, if the 92 doesn’t come, you’re stuck. Great planning. Soon we get two idiotic light railway lines. Not how Gilo wanted and needed it. No one asked us. They only asked us where we wanted stops, not what routes. That’s for people who are specialists.
Everything is in the hands of Heaven except the buses. I don’t want to accuse Him. It’s probably everywhere so under capitalism.
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, an almost daily blog contributor to the Times of Israel, and previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. *
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Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. Yet, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people who don't deserve that. He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. *
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His most influential teachers (chronologically) are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. *
One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. *
He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. He loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, anti-elitism, anti-bigotry and supremacy, for Zionism, Intersectionality, and non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. *
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