Jerusalem light rail with Egged bus 311.
(photo credit: Abir Sultan)
Jerusalem’s bus system will undergo major changes in two months as the light
rail reaches full operation, transportation officials announced
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The heart of the changes is a switch from long bus routes that
wind through multiple neighborhoods as they cross the city, to shorter bus
routes that bring residents from each neighborhood to the major transportation
arteries of the light rail or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes.
rail and the BRT lanes will make an X through the city, dividing the city into
four quadrants. The changes will first be rolled out in 17 neighborhoods in the
southwest part of the city, including Rehavia, Kiryat Yovel, Beit Hakerem, and
Ein Kerem. It could take up to a year for the full changes to come into effect
across the city.
Twenty-two bus lines will be affected in the first stage
of changes, roughly 40 percent of the bus lines in the city. Agripas Street,
near the Mahaneh Yehuda market, which has long suffered from a gridlock of
buses, will decrease from 16 bus lines to 8 bus lines.
The shorter bus
routes mean travelers may have to take a bus, the light rail, and another bus to
arrive at their destination.
Transportation officials claim that despite
the multiple switches, the complete overhaul of the public transportation system
will actually make it quicker and more efficient for people to move about the
Shorter, locally-concentrated routes mean buses can reach
previously under-served areas such as local commercial centers or community
centers, said Dror Ganon, the deputy director-general for public transport at
the Transportation Ministry.
Long-needed technological upgrades are a
major part of the “transportation revolution,” as officials have termed it, in
an attempt to capitalize on the summer social protests. Starting Thursday,
travelers will be able to plan their trips via a website, www.jet.org.il
complete with maps, which reflects the most recent bus changes along with bus
schedules and walking routes. The service will eventually be translated into
English, Arabic, and Russian, as well as created into downloadable applications
for smart phones. Initially it will only be available in Hebrew.
than 30 “smart stops,” which announce when the next bus will arrive, have
already been installed, and there will eventually be 250 smart stops, including
the light rail, over the next 18 months.
“We take full responsibility
that public transportation will be a better alternative than private cars,” said
Zohar Zoller, the advisor to the mayor for transportation issues. “The roads
can’t physically be enlarged, therefore the only option is to improve public
transportation. This is simple mathematics,” he said.