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
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.
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