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Tel Aviv Beach Bus: A Transportation Startup Gets Going

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The city of Tel Aviv brings together rich tradition and culture with new technology and innovation. Thanks in part to the city's beautiful weather and still emerging tech community, many digital startups call the city home. Tamara Shamam, who lives in Tel Aviv, recently co-founded Tel Aviv Beach Bus. She responded to my questions via email:

Why did you decide to launch this business?

Shamam: I live near the beach in Tel Aviv and whenever I invite my Jerusalem friends to spend the day at the beach, it's four hours of traveling with six buses and two huge bus terminals that everyone wants to avoid. The two cities aren't geographically far away so there's really no reason it should take so long to get to the beach.

We thought if there was a bus from the areas in Jerusalem where people live, Katamon and Rechavia, straight to the beach in Tel Aviv, it would cut down on a lot of the time and headache spent getting to and from the beach. We're also offering discounts at various places in the area for people who buy beach bus tickets -- discounts at cafes, bars, and even at a surf shop for surfing lessons.

Aren't people busy at work and with their lives? Who's the target audience for this service?

Shamam: We're running the buses on Fridays, when people have off. The work week in Israel is Sunday to Thursday, so Friday is a great day to start the weekend at the beach.

Why's the Tel Aviv beach so important to dwellers of Jerusalem?

Shamam: It's a nice escape from the hectic pace of the city, and a lot of people say that they wish Jerusalem had a beach like Tel Aviv. We're just trying to bring it closer to Jerusalemites and let them enjoy it too.

Do you think similar services would work in other countries?

Shamam: We got the idea from Rockabus in New York City that brought people from the Lower East Side to the Rockaways. It can definitely work in other countries, anywhere you have an amazing beach that isn't easily accessible through public transportation.

At a time when startups are launching in droves in Tel Aviv and other tech hubs around the world, why start an offline business like this one?

Shamam: So that people put down their phones and enjoy each other's company under the Mediterranean sun.