Jul 15, 2008
Egged's response to the busjacking
The other day I wrote about an incident in which passengers of the 497 Egged route from Bnei Braq to Bet Shemesh "busjacked" a 402 bus. They were frustrated that Egged had not provided enough buses and they were on the verge of being stranded overnight in the streets as the last bus had passed. They did not take it sitting down and filled up a 402 bus (that was meant to go to Jerusalem) and "forced" the driver to change his route to that of the 497.
Egged has responded to the claims, and another article, this one online (though only in Hebrew) provides more of the details, along with Egge'ds response.
According to the article, the violent takeover of the bus caused a family, expecting to go to Jerusalem, get split up in the mass confusion. One child ended up lost and after a multi-city search they located the child in abother city, after he alighted another bus in the confusion.
Egged claims that they are under attack from a group of hooligans from Bnei Braq who have systematically been attacking their buses and causing delays. They even bring videos to take pictures for publicity so people will see Egged buses full of Haredim delayed and stuffed to the rafters, in an attempt, according to Egged, to portray Egged as treating the Haredi passengers poorly. According to Egged, they do this to assist their efforts in calling for opening up the transportation industry to more players.
Regarding that specific incident with the busjacking of the 497, Egged responds that the supervisor on site called requesting more buses. Immediately they went to work arranging more buses to be dispatched. When the buses arrived on site, the hooligans attacked the buses, standing in the street not allowing the buses to proceed, sowing anger among the other passengers, and causing delays of over an hour until orderliness could be implemented.
The question is which article is more accurate about what happened... but regardless, while possibly Egged might be right that passengers are angry at Egged and they cause greater delays, Egged has always provided poor service on many lines in the Haredi community (and other lines as well), whether it be in the form of not enough buses on a route, tardiness, overstuffing passengers on a bus and more. That has angered the passengers who are paying for a service that they cannot get elsewhere, as there is no competition.
For Egged to blame all their troubles on a group of hooligans, that does or does not exist, is a "cop-out" in my opinion.
Egged has to improve their service. They are well-known for providing horrible service, and many cities are starting to open up their routes to alternate bus companies because of it. It is high time Egged started improving their service.
Yes, the public wants competing bus companies. Competition is good for everybody. It brings prices down. It forces companies to improve their level of service and the quality of the product. the only loser in an open market would be Egged who would no longer have a free hand in making money off the public who has no alternative. So yes, the public wants more options. But they want this because of the poor service you have been providing for years. Not that your poor service is because of their desire for competition.