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Friday, November 17, 2006

It's money, again!

We're dependent on public transportation. Unlike most of our peers, we've never owned a car. This isn't the post to explain all of the various reasons.

In the 25 years we have lived in Shiloh, the public transportation had reached the level of "we can live with it." Enough buses made it up the few sharply inclined meters (up the hill) to our neighborhood, sometimes even doing us the favor to drop us off by our front door. And we could usually plan our departures and arrivals knowing that there would be a bus to take. At other times, we'd just have to wait for rides.

A week and a half ago, things changed. I can't say that it's all bad, but our neighborhood got hit hard and now is almost totally ignored by the buses.

When we realized that our quality of life would be severely affected, our anger was placed 100% on the "public servants," paid and volunteers, in Shiloh, the nearby communities and our regional council.

Considering that a majority of the Shiloh bus passengers live in my neighborhood, Ramat Shmuel, the highest point in Shiloh, it's obvious that we're suffering.

Yesterday on my way home from work, I caught the 3:45pm (from Jerusalem) in Ofra. As I was digging through my workbag for change to pay, I spoke to the driver. I've known this driver for years, as he's one of the most veteran on our route.

Being dependent on buses, we've always made a point of treating the drivers well. Their work is hard, but until yesterday's conversation, I didn't realize how hard.

The drivers on our route are generally the employees of Egged, not the members of the Egged Cooperative. There are two different pay scales, and our non-member drivers are on the lower one.

Since the "change" I've been politely, of course, reminding the drivers that most of us getting off in Shiloh live "up the hill," and we're terribly inconvenienced. This guy was very nice about it. I said that it's only five minutes more to the route, and then he told me:

Egged decides how long a route should take, and they pay in accordance. If they decide that I should be finished at "six" and I'm finished at 6:13, I don't get paid more. If there's a traffic jam or an accident or fog or hail or the army blocks the road, we get paid as if the traffic went smoothly and quickly.

There isn't a proper food break in our schedule, and any how in Ariel (now that the route no longer ends in Netanya or Kfar Saba,) we don't have a place to rest even if there was one.

If we don't rush, we won't be able to start the next route on time, and then we get into trouble.
He gave me a whole different perspective on the bus changes. By severely reducing the bus service to my neighborhood, Egged is saving money. It adds up. The fact that most of us need that service is irrelevant. We're dependent on them just to get to Shiloh. And young, old, sick or healthy, we're still taking the bus, but now, unless it suits our schedule to take one of the two remaining that go up the hill, we find ourselves standing around wondering if we ought to just start hiking or wait for a ride. Some neighbors don't have a choice, since they can't physically walk up. And for those who can, sometimes, we have too many packages, and we then can't . It's a problem if the weather isn't cooperating. Standing in the cold and rain isn't good for anyone.

Another point is that the drivers have to rush, meaning drive quickly, which can be dangerous considering the weight and balance problems of these heavy bullet-proofed buses.

It seems like the drivers are suffering from the changes even more than we are. The only one benefiting is the Egged Bus Cooperative. It's all about money after all.


YMedad said...

And there's another aspect (it's me, the Husband). Egged gets paid also by something termed "entrance" and even though they do not go all the way through (up the hill to our neighborhood or down to the end of Shvut Rachel), they get paid on a higher scale than if they didn't. Since our "entrance" location is actually far from the houses and built up area, the less they have to go "inside" the more they profit on gas, etc.

yitz said...

I still wouldn't be surprised if it was really coming from someone "up there" in the Knesset or memshala [govt] who is filtering down orders to Egged to "improve" service, or "be more efficient" with the real intent of crushing the "settler" community...

muse said...

I didn't say "crush;" that's http://esseragaroth.blogspot.com/

Robin said...

Talk about taxation w/o representation. No wonder the colonies revolted against Britain. And it's a good thing they did.

Batya said...

Yes, Robin, democracy isn't doing too well in the middle east.