The first phase of Jerusalem’s bus-route reorganization will start next Friday. The change is so far limited to routes in the southwest of the city. Many routes are being cut back or changed, and some new routes will be introduced.The light rail will become the backbone of public transport in the city, with local bus routes feeding it.The frequency of light-rail trains will be increased, and they will also run later on Friday afternoons and start earlier on Saturday evenings than they do at present.The city’s transportation officials have been monitoring the progress of the light rail, and now that trains are running more frequently it has been decided to implement the first round of bus-route changes.At present, many bus routes are long and winding, leading to delays in travel time. With the new system, passengers will take a local bus to a “feeder” station, where they will change to the light rail. The idea is that overall journey times will be shortened.Egged officials have stated that all residents in the part of the city that will be affected by the changes have received explanatory booklets.There are currently four express bus routes, 71, 72, 74 and 75, serving the outlying neighborhoods of Ramot, Gilo and Homat Shmuel (Har Homa). Eventually more routes of this type will be introduced, although no date has been set yet. Another change, again with no date specified, will be a reduction in the number of buses along the hopelessly congested Agrippas Street, which passes through the Mahaneh Yehuda market. Anyone who has taken a bus along there in recent months will know that it’s far quicker to walk along Agrippas Street than be stuck in a bus for half an hour.There will be posters explaining the new bus routes, and several hundred temporary workers will hand out leaflets at bus stops. Explanatory information will be available in English, French, Russian, Arabic and Amharic, as well as Hebrew.In addition, “plainclothes” inspectors will be riding around, checking on how the system is working.A website, www.jet.org.il, called “Maslulan” (roughly translated as “route finder”) will also provide information, enabling members of the public to select the most convenient route to their destination. The site is currently only in Hebrew but Shmuel Elgrabli, the spokesman for the Jerusalem transportation master plan, says it will soon be in English and Arabic as well.The change is part of Jerusalem’s overall plan to improve public transportation as well as quality of life for the city’s residents.In addition to the bus shake-up, bicycle paths are being introduced.According to Egged officials, all these changes are made in consultation with the municipality and neighborhood councils.Meanwhile, the satellite suburbs of Ma’aleh Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, Mevaseret Zion, Motza and Even Sapir are now included in the Jerusalem city fare zone, meaning that journeys starting or ending in one of these localities cost no more than a standard ride within the city itself. As of this week, a single ticket costs NIS 6.60, entitling the holder to travel on as many buses and/or light rail trains as he likes within 90 minutes. If he boards the last vehicle at the 89th minute he can stay on that bus or train to the end of the line.