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Mar 19, 2008

paying half price for your bus ticket...

MK Yaakov Cohen (UTJ - Agudas Yisrael) has proposed a law in the Knesset that today was brought up for its first reading and vote.

The law Cohen proposed is that if a passenger on the bus has to stand because the bus is full, he should only pay half price for the bus ticket. Cohen says the purpose of the proposed law is on the one hand to compensate the passenger for having to stand, and on the other hand to urge the bus companies to deal with the situation of passengers riding unsecurely and being packed in. If the bus company knows it is making less money and they can only make the full price by finding solutions to get these passengers to sit safely and securely (i.e. probably by adding buses onto the routes where this happens regularly), they will find and implement these solutions.

The law passed its first reading in Knesset today.

In anticipation of it passing through completely and being implemented as law, I have a few questions to ask about situations I can see arising and I wonder how the law would deal with them.

For example, let's say I have a seat, but the bus fills up only later. Suddenly I see an old man get on, and there are no seats to be had. So I stand up and offer him my seat. Who gets the discount? Me or the old man? I already paid for my ticket, will I get a refund? Will the old man have to pay me for the half price discount he received because he got onto a full bus?

Another - will the bus driver have to keep walking up and down the aisles at every bus stop looking for empty seats so he can tell passengers alighting that they get the discount or that there is a seat available?

Another - let's say a passenger has to stand because the bus is full, so he gets the discount. But then the bus empties out over the course of the ride, and now seats are available. Does the passenger have to pay the difference?

Another - what if there is a seat available but it is next to a woman, or a woman getting on and the seat available is next to a man. Let's say this passenger refuses to sit next to someone of the opposite gender. But let us also say that he does not want to make a big deal out of it, so he chooses to stand. Does he qualify for the discount because he is standing, even one can say for "religious reasons" and for him no seat is available - sitting there is not an option? or can he not demand the discount because technically a seat is available?


  1. Considering how much the government subsidizes public busses, this is a ridiculous law. Who does he think is going to pay for the shortfall? (I won't answer that.)

  2. You're asking good questions. This law is purely demagogic and cannot be implemented. OTOH, I cannot believe that they didn't think about these issues before. Maybe the text of the law refers to it.

  3. Now that I think about it. It looks like a Purim joke! I think it is a Purim joke.

  4. and when 3 guys get on a bus with only one empty seat, they will all be fighting to stand and get to pay less.

  5. I don't know how this can work in the cities, but it does make sense for inter-city travel. Let's say Jerusalem to TA express. No one is getting off and on. If the bus is full, I think it makes sense to say that the standee should pay 1/2 price.

  6. This is not a Purim joke. It was in the newspaper months ago when the loaw was first proposed. At the time, I wrote a letter to MK Cohen (and a few of his party members) outlining the same points, and adding that these problems could lead to fighting on the bus (I guess if the men fight in the front, and the women fight in the back, it's OK).

    Below are the points I mentioned (copied from my original email - some are similar to what Rafi mentioned):

    * Would the discount be applied in a case where a rider gets on a bus when there are no seats, but sometime during the ride a seat opens up? Would there be a difference if the seat opens up at the next stop, or one stop before the rider gets off the bus (and how would we verify this?).
    * What about someone who gives his seat up to an elderly passenger? Would he be entitled to the discount? (Signs proudly proclaiming והדרת פני זקן are posted in almost every bus. We must take care not to cheapen this חיוב with monetary incentives. In addition, instead of the potential קידוש השם which takes place numerous times on a daily basis, onlookers would believe that someone giving his seat to a זקן is merely looking to save a few shekels.)
    * What about riders with a pre-paid monthly pass? How would they be compensated?
    * When a passenger gets on a "long bus", must the driver check the entire bus to make sure there are no empty seats before giving the discount? What a טירחה דציבורה!
    * If there is a disagreement between the driver and passengers, would such a matter be taken to court over the sum of a few shekels?
    * If the ultimate authority is given to the bus drivers, this would result in people whose ethics are not necessarily golden being put in a situation where they may easily take advantage of the situation. לפני עיור לא תתן מכשול!
    * On a crowded bus where there are nonetheless a few empty seats, someone who doesn't mind standing may tell the driver there are no seats to get the discount. Again, לפני עיור לא תתן מכשול!
    * The drivers have enough to concern themselves with, without having an additional distraction in the form of having to keep track of empty seats. This poses an added danger to both riders and passers-by, especially in crowded neighborhoods, ח"ו (לא תעמוד על דם רעיך).

  7. yoni - did you ever get a response?


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