A new style of public transportation called “Bubble” was piloted this past year in the Tel Aviv region. Bubble is a minibus service that works based on reservations and has a fluid route that is calculated in real-time to drive the shortest possible distance between requested destinations of all of the passengers. The new pilot was highly successful in Tel Aviv and now Egged will be running the same style of service in both Yerushalayim and Haifa. In Haifa, the system will work in tandem with the Moovit app, and in Yerushalayim, it will work with the Via app.
The project is expected to begin in both cities sometime in March. The government ratified the allocation of 40 million NIS for the expansion of the project to the two new cities, which will result in 50 mini-buses that will be put on the road by May.
Bubble has been in operation since last April in the greater Tel Aviv region and is operated by Dan public transportation company. Currently, there are 100 vehicles in operation in the cities of Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan and Givatayim. The cost of operation is some 20 million NIS annually.
In Tel Aviv, the system competes against taxis and existing bus lines. However, the Transportation Ministry has set different goals for Yerushalayim and Haifa where the service will complement the current public transportation system. In Haifa, it will mainly complement the train lines in areas where there are no current public transportation lines. In Yerushalayim, the main goal is to connect the industrial zone of Har Hotzvim to the light rail and the inter-city train line.
Whereas Taxi fares generally range from 40-50 NIS and bus fare cost 5.90 NIS in the city, the cost of a Bubble ride will be between 12-15 NIS similar to what it costs in Tel Aviv.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)