Israeli public transit infrastructure lags behind OECD countries

While Jerusalem and Haifa have both recently received positive updates to their transit systems, Tel Aviv still has not upgraded its mass transit system.

Jerusalem light rail (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Jerusalem light rail
The quality of Israeli infrastructure, particularly in the metropolitan public transportation sector, lags behind that of most developed nations, the Bank of Israel will reveal soon in its annual report.
This section of the report, according to an advance copy released Wednesday, examines the level of available infrastructure and investments associated with the sector, as well as how the country fares in these arenas in comparison to other nations.
In addition to identifying a dearth of public transportation quality, the report stresses that investment in railway infrastructure is low compared to international standards, while investment in road development is higher.
In most indices related to scope and quality of transportation and communications infrastructure, Israel received rankings below the midpoint of OECD countries. Investment in the transportation sector has particularly focused on roads, and the distance that private vehicles travel increased by 4 percent from 2000 to 2014, the report says.
Regarding trains, the report describes the country’s rail network as “relatively small,” leaving Israel “below the midpoint of developed countries in terms of the ratio between the use of railways and distance traveled on roads.”
To evaluate the country’s “level” of public transportation, the Bank of Israel report examines the operations of this type of infrastructure in 23 OECD countries.
The researchers looked at two values, the first being the “actual public transit trips as a share of total travel” – how many times passengers boarded and disembarked from particular means of public transit. The second value they explored was “the forecast share of trips,” taking into account per capita GDP, average family size in the metropolitan area, and population density. They then calculated the difference between the first and second values.
Poland and Spain demonstrated the highest intensity of public transportation use in the selected urban areas within their countries, with Israeli metropolitan areas placing near the bottom of the list.
“We found that intensity of use in two of the metropolitan areas in Israel –Tel Aviv and Beersheba – is far from the accepted level in OECD countries, which may indicate low quality,” the report says.
While Jerusalem and Haifa have both recently received positive updates to their transit systems, Tel Aviv still has no upgraded mass transit system, the authors point out.
“In most OECD countries, the government is streamlining and expanding public transit in the metropolitan areas, particularly in the chief metropolitan area in the country,” they add.
The findings, the section concludes, demonstrate “the need for the government to act with greater urgency to improve public transit infrastructure.”
The availability of efficient and comfortable public transportation can positively influence quality of life, and can negatively impact the balance between work and leisure time when not operating to full potential, the writers argue.
“Studies conducted in Israel and elsewhere in the world indicate that an improvement in the level of infrastructure may contribute to the convergence of the Israeli economy [with] the standard of living in these other countries,” the report states.