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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jerusalem light rail in action

Friday was the first day of operations for the Jerusalem light rail system. Here's a video of the ride from Zion Square to the Central Bus Station.

Let's go to the videotape.

You will note that although the ride goes along Jaffa Road, which is one of the main streets of downtown Jerusalem, the street is practically empty except in the area of the Mahane Yehuda market. This is because (a) it has taken so long to complete the light rail, and completing it made the stores so inaccessible, that many stores have gone out of business, (b) there is no place to safely cross the street in front of the light rail. You can cross virtually anywhere, but the light rail runs exactly at street level. Would you want to take your kids there? and (c) it's Friday, and if this was videoed in the afternoon, most of the remaining stores other than the market would be closed by 2:00 anyway.

By the way, there is only ONE light rail line running, and the reason it opened on Friday was because the company running it would have paid a huge penalty had it not opened.

Here's the train going over Gesher HaMeitarim (Calvatra Bridge) near the Central Bus Station. When Nir Barkat became Mayor three years ago, he sought to tear down the bridge (and cancel the whole project) because the bridge is an eyesore that can be seen from all over the city. Unfortunately, it was too expensive.

Let's go to the videotape.

If I seem cynical it's because we haven't had a car for the last three months, and public transport in Israel in general, and in Jerusalem in particular is the worst I have seen anywhere in the world (in the last year, I have ridden, Boston's, New York's and London's public transport systems - all much better and much more efficient). My kids still don't believe me that everyplace else in the world, people take public transport because it is faster and cheaper than using one's own car.

For those of you who want to see pictures of people on the trains and the route map, you can go here.



At 4:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay! Olmert built a train and destroyed a commercial district!

Only in Israel!

At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not fair to say that the bridge is an eyesore. Rather, the neighborhood around the bridge is an eyesore.

Had the bridge been built over a mountain valley or body of water, we might all have been oohing and ahhing at Santiago Calatrava's design.

At 5:25 PM, Blogger Unbeliever said...

Sorry, but Boston, NY and London do not constitute the world. Boston is half a million people, negligible on the world scale, and Jerusalem is about the same size. You're comparing apples to oranges. NY/London/Moscow/Beijing/Tokyo have are on the same scale, and have good, if incredibly unpleasant to ride public transportation. Most of the U.S. is suburban, and people drive everywhere, so if you have the option to ride a bus or train, you should count yourself lucky.

At 5:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you found my videos useful.

At 5:44 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

its really an above the ground metro. It doesn't compare with underground metro systems in Moscow, Paris and Montreal. The Jerusalem Light Rail is more comparable to the elevated train systems in New York City and Chicago.

But in a city of nearly 800,000, its bound to find a significant ridership from all population segments. Most Israelis ride buses and trains since owning a car is prohibitively expensive and if you need to go anywhere on occasional day trips with a car in Israel, its just cheaper to rent one.

At 7:53 PM, Blogger Andre (Canada) said...

You haven't tried transit in Toronto, then. We always say that we have the best 1950's transit system in the world!
Yours CANNOT be worse.

At 1:13 AM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Shy Guy, it's not only in Israel. We were just in the new age tourist mecca of Sedona, Arizona, north of Phoenix. They had a road reconstruction project, putting in new roundabouts, curbs, etc etc. Took them two years. All the commercial strip centers have empty storefronts now. Even the outlet mall is almost empty. I don't know what these public works people are thinking...

At 3:30 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Having ridden similar systems in Freigberg, Zurich and Melbourne I can tell you that light rail is perfect for pedestrian areas. They are quiet and stick to the rails. Better than busses which are stinky, noisy, rattly and unpredictable.


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