Local Israel

Moving right along

Six express routes to open with new buses which, together with the light rail, will run in conjunction with 42 feeder routes from various Jerusalem neighborhoods as part of new transit system.

One of the city's new express buses
Photo by: Sybil Ehrlich
A further step in Jerusalem’s public transportation revolution took place on Monday, with the inauguration of the first 10 buses of a total of 150 that will run in conjunction with the light rail. The ceremony was attended by Mayor Nir Barkat, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and Egged chairman Gideon Mizrahi.

The articulated buses are 19 meters long, slightly longer than those in use until now, with a passenger capacity of 140, 53 of them seated. The buses have four doors. Depending on the security situation, passengers may be able to board at more than one door.

Unlike many of the buses in use today, these new vehicles have only one low step, making access easy for disabled people or those with luggage or pushing a baby carriage. Inside each bus are screens showing the name of the next stop; and as the bus approaches the stop, a recorded voice announces the fact in Hebrew. In the future, announcements in English and other languages may be added, particularly on routes used heavily by tourists. There are also route maps in Hebrew and English inside the buses.

There will be six express routes served by the new buses which, together with the light rail, will run in conjunction with 42 feeder routes from various neighborhoods, providing the most modern and progressive public transport system in the country.

The total cost of the project is NIS 530 million.

The first route, a distance of eight kilometers, will be along Derech Hebron, Rehov Keren Hayesod, King George Avenue, Rehov Straus, Rehov Yehezkel, Rehov Shmuel Hanavi and Sderot Golda Meir, using a dedicated bus lane for the entire route.

Following a press conference, reporters joined Katz and Barkat for a ride on one of the new buses. The trip began on Derech Hebron, with a sample stop to demonstrate the screen and vocal announcements. The bus turned left onto Rehov Yanovsky, and then looped back onto Derech Hebron, following the route of the 74 bus along Rehov Keren Hayesod, King George Avenue (where it was obvious that even the most sophisticated bus is still a bus and subject to delays caused by traffic jams) and Jaffa Road, as far as the Jerusalem International Convention Center, and then drove under the Bridge of Strings. The jaunt ended opposite the Central Bus Station, where four light rail cars were waiting prior to their first venture over the bridge in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Everything went smoothly, except for a slight altercation at the end of the ride when a disgruntled shopkeeper took the opportunity to vent his frustration over the years of disruption along Jaffa Road. “It’s all very well for you to be celebrating,” he shouted, “but look at what we have had to put up with all this time.”

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