•     Research published today by the Bank of Israel analyzes the effects of employee characteristics and the public transportation infrastructure on the manner of getting to work.
  •    The research maps Israeli localities by a Relative Accessibility Index that estimates the number of potential workplaces that can be reached via public transportation relative to those accessible by private vehicle. According to this index, for most employees (around 60 percent), the number of job localities accessible via public transportation is less than half than those accessible via private vehicle.
  •    The findings of the research indicate that the frequency of intercity public transportation services and the accessibility of information regarding them have a marked impact on employees’ decisions of whether to use a private vehicle.
  •       Employees with a low level of income and a relatively weak socioeconomic background are characterized by greater use of buses and employer-organized shuttles, and employees with a high level of income and a relatively strong socioeconomic background are characterized by greater use of private vehicles. However, it was found that convenient access to train service (both in terms of proximity to home locality and proximity to place of work) increases the use of trains among high income and private vehicle owners as well.
  •       Receipt of car maintenance benefits from the employer markedly reduces the use of public transportation as a mode of getting to work.


A new research paper written by Dr. Tanya Suhoy and Yotam Sofer from the Bank of Israel Research Department examines the issue of public transportation in Israel. In the first part, the researchers analyzed the differences in accessibility to work places via public transportation compared with the accessibility via private vehicle and the distribution of this gap among localities.[1] It was found that for most employees (around 60 percent) the relative accessibility was less than 0.5, meaning that the employment opportunities accessible to them via private vehicle are more than double the number accessible via public transportation. In some localities, in which approximately 15 percent of the employees live, the number of workplaces accessible via private vehicle is five or more times greater than the number accessible via public transportation. It was also found that as the distance from the metropolis’s core increases, the relative accessibility declines, as expected, because of the difficulty in providing comprehensive service to the small number of users. However, for some peripheral localities, and particularly Arab ones, it was found that the relative accessibility is especially low due to the severe limitations in supply of transportation services. It was also found that in Arab localities, there is extensive shuttle transportation organized by the employers and indicates the potential for planning a public transportation system that will successfully deal with the urban planning and complex topographical structures that are characteristic of those localities.

In the second part of the research, Suhoy and Sofer analyzed the effects of employees’ individual characteristics (such as differences in income and incentives from the employer to use a private vehicle), the existing service infrastructure (for example, proximity to a train station), and employees’ work places on their travel mode.

The findings of this analysis (Figures 1 and 2) reveal positive and statistically significant correlations between proximity of bus stops or train stations to place of work and the choice of these travel modes. This effect, like others reported here, was derived by controlling for the observed characteristics of similar employees using different travel modes. A person’s satisfaction with the proximity of a bus/train station to their home and the frequency of service has a positive significant effect on the probability of a bus/train choice. It was also found that there is a positive correlation between the information service regarding public transportation arrangements and the probability of bus choice, and that private-vehicle owners eligible for car maintenance benefits from their employer use private vehicles to a markedly greater extent than public transport. These correlations indicate that it is possible to impact on the extent of use of a private vehicle by improving public transportation and reducing incentives to use a private vehicle.

The research found that the lower the income and socioeconomic level of the individual are, the more extensive is the use of buses and organized shuttle transportation. In contrast, no correlation was found between socioeconomic status and the propensity of train use. It was also found that when there is a train line available to the employee, the share of use of private vehicle to travel to work declines from 82 percent to 68 percent. The research finds evidence that convenient access to train services (both in proximity to home locality and in proximity to job locality) increases the probability of using it among private-vehicle owners as well (Figure 3): The share of train riders to work reaches 13 percent among these commuters. In particular, among men this share increases up to 17 percent. By comparison, the share of train mode among employees overall is approximately 3 percent.

The research was based primarily on Social Survey data for 2014–16, including the survey for 2015 which includes a special expansion dealing with public transportation services. In addition to the survey data, use was made of the Ministry of Transport and Road Safety’s National Public Transport Authority and data from Google Maps and the Moovit application. To analyze the effects of the employees’ characteristics on their travel mode, a discrete choice model was used.

[1] Most of the analysis in the first part of the research was published in July 2018: Suhoy, Tanya and Yotam Sofer, (2018). “Getting to work by public transportation from various localities in Israel: Relative Accessibility Index”, Selected Research and Policy Analysis Notes (Bank of Israel).