Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat, took part in a Knesset Economics Committee discussion on Jerusalem public transportation this week, noting that, "until completion of the construction of the light rail system, the Ministry of Transport must allocate substantial resources to recruit additional bus drivers in Jerusalem, and to offer bonuses to drivers coming to Jerusalem to improve the service." He also said that, "Jerusalem chose public transportation. It's a good thing we did, because looking forward, there is no substitute for efficient public transportation."
Barkat emphasized that, "until completion of the construction of the light rail system in the coming years, Jerusalem's reliance on buses will be absolute. Since the security incidents three years ago, there has been a great shortage of drivers in Jerusalem which has not yet been filled. If Jerusalem's residents are unable to rely on the timely arrival of buses when planning their day, we are going backwards instead of forwards."
The Mayor explained that, "in the past, when there was a shortage of police, the Public Security Ministry added 1,200 positions and raised salaries through a special bonus for those serving in Jerusalem – an initiative that provided a quality solution to the city's security needs. Using that analogy, given the current shortage of bus drivers, which harms Egged's operations, the Ministry of Transport needs to allocate substantial resources for use in recruiting additional drivers, and should even offer bonuses to drivers willing to come to Jerusalem in order to improve the service."
In addition, Barkat referred to the decision that Jerusalem will be the first city to issue a tender for the operation of a large number of service taxis that will improve the city's public transportation, saying that, "this is important news for residents, and I thank Transport Minister, Israel Katz, and the Chairman of the Economics Committee, MK Eitan Cabel."
In his closing remarks, Barkat added that, "In Jerusalem, we have been blessed with very strong residents who know how to raise flags and demand solutions to problems that arise in the field, and I congratulate all of the organizations involved. I believe in the Ministry of Transport, its attentive ear, and its ability to respond to the challenges of Jerusalem during the period of transition to the rail system."