Jerusalem Light Rail.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
After more than a decade of headaches, delays, dashed promises, fighting, legal
procedures and a start date that kept getting further and further away, the
miracle of transport by light rail is almost upon Israel’s capital
Ready to board
Capital merchants struggle with endless light rail delays
The light rail in Jerusalem is expected to finally begin operations
next Friday, August 19, contingent on receiving the final safety
“We’re still doing some fine-tuning before the start, but
we’re ready,” said a City- Pass spokesman, Ozel Vatik.
CityPass is the
conglomerate that is in charge of the train’s operation. CityPass had termed the
last week before the train’s opening “Operation Passover,” and were doing a
Passover-level cleaning of the entire light rail system, including scrubbing the
tracks and removing all the graffiti on the new bus stops.
But a source
familiar with the light rail’s operation expressed pessimism that the train
would begin next Friday as promised. According to the source, the train still
lacks final approval from the Independent Safety Assessment due to some problems
with sensors, which make it difficult for the control center to know the exact
location of each train. The problem is serious enough that it could keep the
train from receiving the ISA before the end of next week.
deploy hundreds of workers during the first few weeks of the train’s operation
in order to explain the automatic ticketing system and answer passenger
Vatik said in an ideal situation, the train’s start date would
be pushed off for an additional month. Fighting over who would get preference at
intersections, the train or cars, led to a yearslong delay in updating the
traffic lights to give preference to the trains. CityPass has only updated 20 of
the 100 traffic lights along the train’s route as of this week.
means that at peak travel times, the train will also suffer from traffic jams,
and it could take up to three times as long for a train to complete the route
from Pisgat Ze’ev to Mount Herzl as it would on the regular route when the
traffic lights are updated. Vatik estimated it would take two or three months
for the company to update the remainder of the traffic lights.
overhaul of the bus lines, which would change more than 50 routes, was planned
to be rolled out simultaneously with the light rail but was pushed off until the
traffic lights are updated and the train runs on a normal schedule.
the traffic lights are updated, trains will depart every five minutes. For the
first few months, trains will depart every 10 to 15 minutes.
lots of excitement and lots of expectations,” Vatik said on Thursday. “We need
to show the public that this is really something different, something that will
really improve the city,” he said.
“Because it’s vacation time, we think
a lot of people will come for the experience, which is great, we like that.”