The Knesset Plenum approved of the government`s request to apply Continuity Law to the Bill for Socio-Economic Change (legislative amendments) (increasing competition), 2012. By doing so the appeals of the Israel Labor Party, Ra`am-Ta`al, Hadash and Balad were rejected.
The government wants to take steps to encourage the use of public bus transportation and to achieve this they are attempting to change the oversight of traffic regulations including regulating the competitive process as a condition for receiving bus line licenses.
In the explanation for the bill, approved in its first reading during the 18th Knesset, it is written ”In the last few years the Israeli government has promoted structural changes to the public transportation system in order to encourage the use of public transportation by, amongst other things, improving the service given to travelers. In this framework, there has been an increase in the competition for the bus lines, a reform in the taxicab system and new public transportation has been established like mass transportation systems. The use of public transportation has economic, social, security and environmental advantages for the market that are expressed in the reduction of congestion and pollution, the increase of safety, equal opportunity for commuters throughout the population and in saving travel time for the whole population. In the last three decades there has been a constant decrease in the number of travelers on bus lines and this despite the fact that Israel has invested money in order to improve the level of service given by the public bus operators. Recognizing this, the government is requesting to take additional steps in order to encourage the use of the public buses and therefore has added aspects within traffic oversight like the regulation of competitive process as part of the division of the licenses to run bus lines. The Trachtenberg Committee recommended obligating the state to incorporate a competitive process when granting licenses as well as ensuring that the public transportation operators maintain competitive prices and service levels as soon as possible. This is expressed in this law. The opening of the economic branch of public bus transportation to additional agents will have the potential to improve the level of service given to customers and will provide major monetary savings that the public will benefit from. Opening up the public transportation system to competition will being significant savings from the public subsidies for public transportation due to the lowered costs that are a part of opening up the market to competition. It should be noted that parallel to this bill, there is a Bill for the Regulation of Traffic Oversight on the table of the Knesset Economic Committee, which attempts to regulate the granting of operator licenses for public transportation and the implementation of smart ticketing in public transportation and both laws should be seen as one.
18 MKs supported the request of the government and 2 opposed. The bill will be returned to the House Committee who will decide which committee will prepare the bill for its second and third reading.