Large-scale subway system planned for central Israel

The public transport project, the largest in Israel's history, will include 90 miles (145 km) of underground rail lines going through 24 cities.

Yisrael Katz, Israel's Minister of Transport, speaks as he stands next to employees of China Railway Engineering Corporation, during an event marking the beginning of underground construction work of the light rail, using a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), in Tel Aviv, Israel February 19, 2017. (photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
Yisrael Katz, Israel's Minister of Transport, speaks as he stands next to employees of China Railway Engineering Corporation, during an event marking the beginning of underground construction work of the light rail, using a Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), in Tel Aviv, Israel February 19, 2017.
(photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
While work continues on the light rail system in Tel Aviv, a separate subway system is being planned to connect a number of cities in the Gush Dan region of central Israel, according to Globes.
The public transport project, the largest in Israel's history, will include 90 miles (145 km) of underground rail lines going through 24 cities. The project should receive final approval in 2022.
The system will be made out of three lines with 109 stations.
The 47 mile (76 km) M1 line will go from north to south and pass through 59 stations. The line will be made out of a central line that passes through the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and branches into two lines leading to Lod and Rehovot in the south and two lines leading to Kfar Saba and Ra'anana in the north.
The 14 mile (23 km) M2 line will go from east to west and pass through 23 stations, beginning in Holon and ending in Petah Tikva.
The 24 mile (40 km) M3 line will form a sort of half circle and pass through 24 stations, beginning in Hertzliya and ending in Bat Yam, with a branch to Ben-Gurion Airport.
About 2 million people are expected to travel on the subway system, which is expected to cost NIS 150 billion.
If the budget is passed, it should include funding for the subway system. Some of the funds will come from future operating income, such as ticket sales, and from "value capture," meaning selling building rights in stations and above them.
Dr. Nir Sharav, an urban economist and head of the planning team for transportation of the project, told a meeting of the planning team for the metro system that Israel is far behind when it come to funding the public transport system, according to Globes.
Sharav added that the total benefits of the metro will reach NIS 550 billion through the life of the project, three times as much as the investment put into it.
The point of the subway system is to make cars extraneous, explained Gilad Zwebner, VP Planning and Design of NTA - Metropolitan Mass Transit Ltd., the government company implementing the metro system.
Zwebner stated that 90% of traffic in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan area is from private vehicles, according to Globes.
"A system based on a metro could bring us to 40% usage of vehicular traffic. According to all the scenarios that were considered, without a metro, there would be a complete collapse of the transport system," said Sharav.
Travel times should be significantly cut once the metro is finished. Sharav estimates that transit times may be cut by a third, allowing someone to travel from Petah Tikva to Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv within 27 minutes, a trip that currently takes 72 minutes by bus or 58 minutes by car.
Architect Yair Avigdor, the head of the planning team for the stations, stated that the planned metro will change the urban space of the metropolitan area.
"The accessibility of stations needs to be maximal, they will turn into a central site in the city, and private cars will move to the bottom of the pyramid," said Avigdor, according to Globes.
"Once the development of the space around metro stations is high quality, it regulates demand, attracts both employed users and commercial and residential users, contributes to the municipal and national budget and to the increase of the scope of development made possible through this contribution," added Avigdor.
Even the depots will be turned into urban areas including residential buildings, parks, businesses and more.
Some concerns have been raised that the development that could take place around metro stations would lead to gentrification and push out current residents who wouldn't be able to afford it. Only a few cities have been able to develop such a system in a way that allows for a variety of residential options for different income levels, according to Globes.
While the actual construction of the system won't even start for the next few years, it will most likely cause traffic and noise and may include expropriations, all issues that the Tel Aviv light rail has included.
At the current stage of planning, large swaths of land have been marked as "frozen," meaning all construction on the sites is frozen. 
The mayor of Kfar Saba and and the head of the Southern Sharon Regional Council sent a letter last May to the then chairman of the National Infrastructure Committee stating their opposition to the plan as it would "critically harm agriculture, nature, the landscape and the green health of residents of the area, to the point of eliminating agricultural settlement in the Moshav Gan Haim," according to Globes.