Israel had its first Shabbat bus service in its history last Saturday

Israel had its first Shabbat bus service in its history last Saturday
Israeli operated its first Saturday bus service this weekend.
2 min read
25 November, 2019
Israel operated the bus service this weekend [Getty]
Israel operated its first ever Shabbat bus service on Saturday, but strict religious laws and sensitivities meant that operators could not charge customers.

A fleet of buses in Tel Aviv whistled passengers through the city on a Saturday for the first time since the city was founded, 110-years-ago, marking a "historic day" for the country, according to Israeli media.

The service began late Friday until late Saturday, when buses are unofficially forbidden to operate due to Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.

"This is a historic day; I'm not kidding," one traveller told Haaretz newspaper.

The operation was strongly opposed by Israel's Orthodox population who say its an affront to Jewish law. 

"The ability to move from place to place throughout the week is a fundamental right," Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai told reporters on Monday, according to Jerusalem Post.

To get around this, "We Move on Weekends" did not charge customers for the service, which was instead funded via council funds, meaning Tel Avivians will be paying through local taxes.

The city of Tel Aviv will pay $2.6 million of the $3.6 million a annual running costs, according to Times of Israel.

The free service operated on six routes in Tel Aviv city and its suburbs, with minibuses running every half-hour.

Buses have not run between Friday evening and Saturday sun down since Israel's formation in 1948, following an agreement between the country's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and the Ultra-Orthodox community.

A ban is still in place outside Tel Aviv - although it is not legally binding - but the mayor has urged other cities to follow its lead and run bus services.

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