light rail 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Just a few weeks before the light rail in Jerusalem is set to begin partial
operation along Jaffa Road, transportation officials tried to assuage the fears
of Jerusalem residents shaken by last week’s bus bombing.
Master Plan spokesperson Shmuel Elgrabli said that like all public
transportation in Israel, the light rail’s security would be overseen by the
Israel Police, with additional support from the municipality and the
He added that cameras were installed inside the
trains and at all stops. The cameras will be used for both traffic monitoring
Additionally, each bus stop will have an emergency call
button where passengers can be connected to the train’s command center in French
Hill to report suspicious packages, or call for help. CityPass, the company in
charge of running the trains, will oversee both the cameras and the call
Transportation officials declined to share other specific details
of security arrangements.
Jack Dadon, the former chief of Border Police,
who now serves as the security advisor to the light rail, said he was confident
the public should not be concerned about security on the light rail. Dadon
emphasized that he was working in cooperation with all of the emergency services
to continually monitor and improve the security situation.
“We don’t want
to be satisfied [with security arrangements] – we want to always be worried to
see where it’s possible to improve,” he said on Monday. “I think when trains
start to carry [passengers] and becomes part of the routine, we’ll learn things
and be able to add things and change things.”
In addition to security,
transportation officials are also finetuning final safety arrangements before
the train begins carrying passengers.
Over the past week, the temporary
orange fence used to keep pedestrians off the train tracks was removed. However,
the traffic safety organization, Metuna, unsuccessfully advocated for keeping
the fences to protect pedestrians.
“Taking down the temporary guardrails
at this point in time is a major mistake and will cost lives in no uncertain
terms,” said Metuna head Mordechai Feder.
The organization requested that
the light rail take alternative steps – such as adding flashing lights to the
trains, or adding markings on the sidewalk – before the temporary fence was
“The light rail runs in dozens of cities around the world
without fences,” Elgrabli said.
“[It] is very friendly to running in a
city, even on sidewalks.”
The light rail will travel at approximately
10-15 kph, roughly the speed of a person running.
Elgrabli warned that
pedestrians should avoid getting distracted by their phones in the area around
the light rail.
The light rail is scheduled begin partial operation on
April 17, carrying passengers for a symbolic fee from Damascus Gate to the
Central Bus Station.
It is expected to be fully operational in mid-August
if all testing goes according to schedule.