Jerusalem light rail 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Isn’t it about time someone said something nice about the Jerusalem light rail? It has now been running for nearly two months without fail, carrying hundreds of passengers. It takes youngsters to school and old ladies shopping into the market.
Young and old go to weekday synagogue, Moslems to their mosques, and Christians to churches and chapels. They forget their cars and their parking problems.
Until four or five months ago, completion of the service was promised and then delayed again and again, thus the kvetchers (whiners) said it would never happen and the shopkeepers on Jaffa Road, who had suffered for three years, as customers were unable to reach them through the construction turmoil, thought they would never see the end of their misery.
But how the pessimists have been proven wrong! The tram is a thing of beauty and pleasure. It is well designed, it is quiet, it is comfortable and it is air-conditioned.
It runs sleekly along unseen tracks, so far without accident. The stations are convenient, clean and functional, and the metal seats, while waiting for the tram, are a joy to the eye and the posterior.
The train glides in gracefully and noiselessly alongside the platform, the doors slide open and away we go.
That other object of constant criticism, the Bridge of Strings, designed
by the Spanish engineer Santiago Calatrava, an architectural genius, is
also a thing of beauty and elegance. Designed according to the purest
element of structural nature, that everything can hang by a thread, it
suspends thirty cables from one soaring steel box pillar that leans over
backwards to counteract the stress of the curved tramway and cycle
track, soaring cleanly over the tangle of polluting, gridlocked ethanol
traffic below. It is another thing of beauty and a joy forever.
To cross the bridge on the light rail is an aesthetic experience of the
first order. The beauty and good order are equal to those of the
glorious ancient buildings of this city, and the bridge and rail have
brought credit to our ancient walls. To see it glide past the New Gate
and the walls that lead to the Damascus Gate, is to see the future
enhancing the past.
We are indeed fortunate to have, at last, these elements of city
transport that match the magical power of this ancient city. May the
light rail go from strength to strength and may the extensions be built
soon, in the near future, so that this thing of beauty and convenience
becomes useful to all our visitors and citizens.