Such a loud and expensive word – REFORM!

Those who use public transport could not fail to notice the so-called transport reforms launched by the Ministry of Transport and implemented a couple of weeks ago in several cities in Israel. Communicating with residents of the Shprintsak district in the city of Haifa, I realized that the reform did not take into account the demographic characteristics of the population of this area, its needs and interests.
In Haifa, one can create a textbook based on the facts – on how NOT to carry out reforms. Change one digit on the bus route (51 instead of 5), or delete one letter on the bus panel (take out “alef” out of “5 alef”) – and you can claim without false modesty that you have successfully carried out the reform. But these digital tricks are not as painful as other types of reform.
Assign the same numbers to two buses traveling in different directions from approximately the same point (51 and 51). And this is in an area where there are many elderly people, deaf and blind, who now must direct all their efforts to have time to read or hear where the bus goes.
And now add another “twix” – another couple of buses with the same numbers (30 and 30). It already looks like a real challenge!
Oh yeah, and keep the old sign on the windshield that doesn’t match what the tape recorder on the bus says. Do you like brain exercise now?
Yes, leave the old signs at the bus stops too. Well, why to waste public money on them!
Don’t skimp on printing colorful brochures! Print them in several languages: Russian, Arabic, and Hebrew. But… hand out brochures in Russian in a predominantly Russian speaking area AFTER the changes are in place. And it doesn’t hurt to mix up something in the pages – for example, place caps from one route, and add stops from another route. Cool puzzle!
And what about the routes themselves! People from the district who traveled without a transfer mainly to the central bus station or their children and grandchildren to the Technion will no longer be able to do this. If they miss their bus, they will have to wait at the bus stop for 20 minutes for the next one. Add to this the waiting time for docking – and here is an example of taking care of passengers!
I gave the example of one district of Haifa, but the same is true in other cities and districts that are inhabited by people of different nationalities. Arabic-speaking, Russian-speaking, Hebrew-speaking citizens, using public transport in different settlements, were simply knocked out of the saddle by this newfound reform.
Many years ago, I worked in Moldova on a project that encouraged local and regional authorities to be legally called upon to conduct public consultations with the population when it comes to projects that will be covered from the local or regional budget and directly concern a certain group of people. We have helped local authorities in more than 120 localities in Moldova hold consultations (hearings) with the population when it came to projects in the field of transport, water supply, gas supply, repair of schools, roads, public buildings, etc. Sometimes the project concerned only one particular district of the city, sometimes the projects affected the population from 2-3 cities or villages. But it was the public hearing that contributed to the fact that a certain draft decision of the authorities was rejected or approved, and if approved, then in what form. At the hearings, the population spoke out, and the authorities listened and took into account the opinion of the population. Any decision that concerned the use of budgetary funds above a certain bar could not be made without the consent of the population!
High-ranking officials in Israel will beat their chests with their fists for a long time to come and proudly proclaim that they have carried out the current transport reform for the benefit of the people. They will say that they did it for those who live in the area: for a woman in a wheelchair, for a mother with three small children, for a man with a hearing aid in his ear, for a woman who wears glasses with lenses one centimeter thick. Of course, everything is for them! To make them feel comfortable!
Only they are not at all comfortable with these reforms! And they are unlikely to write about it to the Ministry of Transport. And it is unlikely that anyone sitting in a cool office in Jerusalem will know how it is to stare in Haifa under the scorching sun at the panels of twin buses or at the panel of a bus that has become completely alien, since the letter was removed from it or the digit was added. Yes, yes – they carried out a transport reform, having spent solid budgetary funds. They just did it without consultation with the population affected by this reform, which is so necessary in such cases.
Natalia Sontu

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