Transport Ministry mulls more carpool lanes
28 January 2020 - globes
The Ministry of Transport is considering adding carpool lanes to Road 4 and the Jerusalem – Tel Aviv highway.
Israel's Ministry of Transport is considering the expansion of its carpool lane program to more roads. The ministry is mulling dedicating lanes for buses, taxis and carpooling on Road 1 and Road 4. As of now, there are two such lanes: on the Ayalon Highway (Road 20) and the coastal highway (Road 2). The Ministry of Transport emphasizes that no decision has been taken yet in the matter, and that a number of alternatives for expanding the program are under consideration. One of these alternatives is inaugurating a new carpool lane on Road 4 in both directions between the Ganot Interchange near Tel Aviv and Ad Halom Junction near Ashdod, and on Road 1 between Kibbutz Galuyot at the entrance to Tel Aviv to the Ben Shemen Interchange.
Carpool priority lanes have been implemented since early October on the Ayalon South Highway (Road 20) in both directions between Mavo Ayalon and Kibbutz Galuyot. These lanes drew severe public criticism, with taxi drivers accusing Minister of Transport Bezalel Smotrich of aggravating traffic jams without providing any appropriate solution for public transportation problems. At the same time, Smotrich emphasized at the very beginning of the program that he wanted to expand it if it achieved its targets.
Now that expansion of the project is being considered, the question arises of whether it is really achieving its targets. According to Ministry of Transport figures, the difference in travel time between a carpool lane and an ordinary lane in the rush hour is 20 minutes. It is also clear, however, that enforcement of the rules for the lanes is inadequate, with many drivers alone in their cars using the lane undisturbed, thereby delaying traffic. Recent observations by the Or Yarok Association for Safer Driving in Israel reveal that drivers are not afraid of being caught by the police and fined. Or Yarok says that one out of every four drivers in the lane is breaking the law.
Out of 650 vehicles observed today on the carpool lane, 170, 25%, were traveling illegally. "Before opening new carpool lanes, it is important to make sure that the rules are being enforced for the current lanes, and that shared travel is really receiving priority over travel by a single person," says Or Yarok director of strategy Oz Dror. "Designated lanes can be a good solution to the problem of road congestion if they are fully and effectively enforced by means of a police presence and electronic systems. The purpose is not to increase fines on drivers in order to increase the state's revenue; it is to create a climate that prevents traffic violations."