Vos Iz Neias is reporting that Egged (the public bus line that serves Israel) has rebuffed efforts by the Chareidi community to institute separate seating bus service to the Kotel. As a result, the Chareidim have called upon people to send money to establish their own bus lines.
In one respect, they finally got it right. If you're not happy with the service being provided and you think that there is enough of a demand for an alternative service, you should go out and provide that alternate service. Rather than forcing people who don't want to sit in separate seating buses* (and who don't hold that it's forbidden for men and women to sit together in public transportation) to accomodate to your wishes, it's far better to start your own bus line.
So, what's the problem? Well, the problem is that the community needs $100,000 to establish the service. The article doesn't state whether this is going to be run as a business or as a community service (and subsidized by charity dollars). My guess is that it's going to be partially subsidized by charity dollars, as I don't think there really is enough of a demand for separate-seating buses to the Kotel (if there were, wouldn't Egged agree to estblish the lines?)
Assuming the busing service is not going to be run as a business, I think it would behoove the chareidi community to decide if having the separate bus line to the Kotel is really worth it. In a community where children and families are going hungry due to a shortage of donations and kollelim might have to close (thereby reducing the amount of Torah being learned), I think the chareidi community needs to take a long, hard look and decide if this bus line is *really* necessary at this time. Resources in any community are scarce and sometimes tough choices have to be made in deciding which public projects should receive those scarce resources. I think that $100,000 could be spent in *much* better ways than setting up a bus line for separate seating to the Kotel.
P.S. I wanted to comment on some of the way over-the-top comments about mixed bus service (mixed journeys of promiscuity?), but I think I'll leave that for another time.
* When Eeees and I went to Israel several years ago, we were there for the first time. Never having been there, we weren't always 100% sure where we were going. Being able to sit together allowed us to feel far more comfortable riding the buses. Both of us riding separately in a country where we had never been, going to a place where we never went to before would have been very uncomfortable and unnerving.