Public Transportation in East Jerusalem is Not Accessible



Is the lack of accessible public transportation in East Jerusalem another sign of double discrimination against people with disabilities from the Arab community?

In a letter to the Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz and the Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Bizchut claims that the authorities have not met their legal obligation to ensure accessible public transportation for residents of East Jerusalem and threatens to turn to the High Court of Justice on this matter.

In East Jerusalem there are buses and minibuses that travel to neighborhoods and villages, run by private transportation companies chosen through an official tender.  Despite legislated requirements on the matter, the buses and minibuses are not accessible to people with mobility or sensory impairment, neither are bus stops in East Jerusalem accessible.

Adv. Abir Joubran-Dakwar and Adv. Yotam Tolub from Bizchut, claim that in spite of the obligations under the Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Law and its regulations, the situation in East Jerusalem is appalling and what have become acceptable standards for accessibility to public transportation in other locations around the country and in neighborhoods in West Jerusalem, have been passed over in the east of the city.

The outcome of this harsh violation of the law is a serious blow to the rights of thousands of residents with mobility and sensory impairments to freedom of movement, and to the their right to be included in society and live a life of dignity: the buses and minibuses do not have room for people who use wheelchairs, there are no ramps, no seats dedicated to people with disabilities, no accommodations for people with sight impairments, no public announcement systems, no enlarged signs with contrasting colors, as laid down in the regulations.

In the past few years the transportation companies have spent millions of shekels on 73 new buses and minibuses, with support from the Ministry of Transportation and the city implemented a program to organize the transportation system in East Jerusalem and make it more efficient, including renovating the bus stations at the Nablus Gate and in Sultan Suliman Street.  In a surprising and outrageous move, in spite of the large investment in development and equipment, the authorities have completely ignored their obligation to make the public transportation system accessible to persons with disabilities.

Given the terrible distress of persons with disabilities living in East Jerusalem and before we turn to legal action, Bizchut is demanding that the Ministry of Transportation and the transportation companies take action to make all the buses and minibuses produced since 2004 accessible; that the Licensing Department refuse to register inaccessible vehicles; that the Jerusalem Municipality, the Ministry of Transportation and transportation companies ensure that bus stops and bus stations are accessible to people with mobility and sensory impairments and prepare a plan for making all public transportation facilities in East Jerusalem accessible in line with their obligations under the law.