Major bus changes in J’lem next week

Almost half of city’s routes, mostly serving southwest, will be affected.

By MELANIE LIDMAN
January 3, 2012 04:24
3 minute read.
An Egged bus [illustrative]

Egged bus 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

 
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Transportation officials in Jerusalem are hoping that Friday the 13th will bring good luck, rather than bad, when a major overhaul of the capital’s public transportation system will go into effect. The January 13 change will affect 22 bus lines in the southwestern quarter of the city.

The overhaul is part of a larger switch from long bus routes that wind through multiple neighborhoods across 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.

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Jerusalem’s public transportation system is roughly based on an “X” shape, with the light rail and the BRT lanes 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. In an effort to avoid widespread confusion ahead of the change, 450 attendants will fan out across the city in the coming week to answer any questions related to bus changes.

The changes mean most residents will have to make at least one switch in order to reach their destination, a concern for the elderly and the handicapped, as well as parents with multiple children.



“All modern transportation systems are based on transfers,” said Alex Langer, the director of the Transportation Ministry.

“You can’t have lines that go everywhere,” he said.

Langer also defended the concern that creating a system which relied heavily on one light rail route would be opening the city to serious issues in the event of a terrorist attack on the train.

“We are a city that has to deal with situations and terror attacks, something that doesn’t happen in other cities, but any network can fall victim to problems,” he said. In case of an emergency, additional bus routes will be used to avoid a complete shutdown of the city.

There are still a variety of challenges transportation officials are facing while trying to implement the overhaul of the public transportation network.

Strikes on the light rail, or times close to Shabbat or holidays when buses still run but the light rail does not, can leave large holes in the transportation network.

It will be an additional four months until the light rail is running at full capacity and leaving every 4.5 minutes. Currently, waiting time for the light rail can be 15 minutes or more.

Issues with Rav-Kav cards, which caused hours-long lines in November and then did not work on both the trains and buses as promised, are almost solved, said transportation officials.

AgripPas Street next to the shuk remains a transportation nightmare, but the 16 bus lines along the road will be reduced to eight, a decrease of at least 400 bus trips per day.

Travelers can plan their bus trips and find additional information on the Jerusalem Transportation website, www.jet.org.il. The website is not yet available in English.

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