Kristine L Ming

Beersheba nixes bus announcements in Arabic

Buses in Beersheba stopped public announcements in Arabic after many residents complained of hearing Arabic on their daily commute.

In response the Transportation Ministry said that Arabic announcements were instituted prematurely.

On Sunday the Dan Bus Company initiated bus lines and transportation infrastructure and also ushered in a Hebrew and Arabic public announcement system on the bus lines. The Arabic announcements triggered backlash from Beersheba citizens who complained to the Dan Bus management, which stopped the announcements.

The ministry said in a statement that Arabic announcements need to be examined “according to uniform criteria” before they can be implemented.

“Arabic announcements on public transportation in Beersheba were activated prematurely for less than one day, and they were removed immediately. Following our inquiry, the announcement system will be operated according to a plan that will be determined,” the ministry said.

Arabic-speakers constitute under 5% of Beersheba’s population, but the city is a major center of public transportation for the nearby Beduin population.

According to a report in Maariv, the Arabic announcements were removed when the ministry received a request from Beersheba Mayor Ruvik Danilovich, who was responding to a flood of residents’ complaints.
A statement provided to The Jerusalem Post by the Beersheba Municipality said that Arabic announcements would be implemented in Beersheba if they are implemented by the ministry nationwide.

MK Dov Henin (Joint List) criticized the removal of Arabic announcements.

“Arabic announcements on buses in Beersheba are part of a complete process for improving the accessibility of public transport in Israel for Arabic-speaking citizens,” said Henin in a statement.

“This move is also essential for the non-Arabic-speaking public, to remind us that we live here together, side by side, Arabs and Jews, and share this space.”

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