Residents and politicians of Herzliya are up in arms over a new plan by the municipality to operate “Shabbat shuttles” – minibuses that will transport riders from outlying neighborhoods to the city's beaches and the Arena shopping center on the Jewish day of rest.
The shuttle is expected to go into operation next April, city officials said, emphasizing that it will operate only for a few hours each Shabbat, and avoid religious neighborhoods.
Backers of the plan say that in the absence of public bus transportation in Israel on Shabbat, the shuttle is a necessary alternative, providing young people and adults who do not drive with the means to visit beaches and places of entertainment on their only day off.
The plan was approved Wednesday by the city council, but there were numerous objections raised by several council members – both religious and secular.
Deputy Mayor Zvi Weiss, who is observant, did not attend the meeting, and as a result, he claims, the measure passed. Weiss later asked Mayor Moshe Fedlon that if the plan should be put into effect, the city at least hire non-Jewish drivers to operate the shuttles.
As a city at a relatively high socioeconomic level – as well as with a substantial religious population – Weiss denounced the plan, calling it “political,” and stating that “it is not going to do anything for anyone in Herzliya.”