311_new Jlem buses.
(photo credit: Sybil Ehrlich)
The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality is working in collaboration with the
Transportation Ministry and the Dan bus company to run a “bus rapid transit”
(BRT) line along what is set to be a future light rail line, the municipality
announced this week on its Facebook page.
If it goes into effect, the BRT
line will open in 2013 as a temporary solution until a light rail line is built
in 2017. The Red Line, which is set to be the first line in the city’s light
rail system, will run 23 km. from Bat Yam through Tel Aviv to Petah Tikva,
connecting the city’s southern and northern suburbs.
The announcement of
the BRT plan comes after the municipality stated on its Facebook page Sunday
that it would make busonly lanes on Ibn Gvirol, Carlebach, King George and
Yitzhak Elhanan streets, and asked residents to suggest other streets for such
BRT lines use higher-occupancy buses that drive along exclusive
traffic lanes where they have priority at stoplights. They also run at a much
higher frequency, and tickets are typically sold based on the time and distance
the passenger rides.
It is expected that if the BRT system works on the
Red Line route, the Finance and Transportation ministries will back other such
plans on future light rail lines in the Tel Aviv area.
The Tel Aviv light
rail system was approved by the government in December, when it gave the
Transportation Ministry a mandate to advance the development of such a system
after a contract to construct it privately was cancelled.
A budget of NIS
11 billion has been allocated to the Transportation Ministry to carry out the
In December, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz called the
project “the most important transportation project in Israel.”
Dov Henin, head of the interministerial committee on health and the environment,
praised the Tel Aviv Municipality’s decision on Tuesday.
of Gush Dan deserve public transportation solutions. It is impossible to
continue to wait for light or heavy railways,” he said. “The decision to approve
high-speed bus lines – which will be given preference in lanes and at traffic
lights, and won’t be required to sit in gridlock – is a real light at the end of
Henin also mentioned his committee’s ruling that Israel
would build a modern public transportation system in the Dan region that would
operate the same as a subway system, only without having to build underground or
purchase railway infrastructure – “through the use of a network of cheap and
Tel Aviv resident Jesse Fox, an urban planner and an
advocate for greater transparency in the city’s planning system, said BRT
“absolutely could work here. It basically functions like a subway, only it runs
on the surface.”
He noted that “they are building BRT systems in Amman,
Jerusalem and Haifa, and I think the only obstacle to doing the same in Tel Aviv
was a mental barrier among certain decision-makers.”
“Suddenly, it seems, the thinking has changed.
I guess they realized that
the light rail is still too far off, and the bus system isn’t efficient enough
to solve the problem. BRT is somewhere in the middle.”