More than 100,000 Israeli Arabs living in 15 Western Galilee towns have been awarded free train tickets for the new Karmiel railway line following the intervention of NIF grantee Sikkuy – The Association for Advancement of Civic Equality. New bus lines have also been introduced and existing lines changed in order to improve access between the Arab towns and the new railways stations.
The new 14 mile railway line linking Karmiel to the main coastal line via a station at Ahihud opened last month and the Ministry of Transportation initially announced that only residents of the Jewish towns of Karmiel and Ahihud would be entitled to three months of free travel and two years of travel at a 50% discount.
After a campaign by Sikkuy concerning the poor public transportation services provided to the region’s Arab towns, the Ministry of Transportation announced new public transport measures. Sikkuy swayed the Ministry of Transportation through persistent letters and phone calls. The organization stressed that lack of public transportation was restricting employment opportunities in Israel’s Arab sector and is a major factor perpetuating inequality.
“After decades in which Arab citizens were discriminated against in transportation services, the time has come for Israel Railways to be a means of transportation for all of us,” a Sikkuy spokesperson told the Times of Israel.