Cable car service to Western Wall would bypass traffic

A proposal being considered by the Jerusalem Municipality and the Transportation Ministry would see the establishment of a cable car system that would transport worshippers straight to the Western Wall, officials said Wednesday. The multi-million dollar plan, which has the blessings of Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianksi, is meant to allow visitors direct aerial access to the Western Wall bypassing the often-congested traffic in the Old City of Jerusalem. The proposal, which is still in its initial planning stages with engineers and city officials studying among other things its economic feasibility, could get off the ground within three years of approval, Jerusalem Transportation official Shmuel Elgrably said. The cable car, which could accommodate up to 70 passengers, would run from the site of the city's old train station, near the cinematheque, straight to the Dung Gate, the closest of the Old City walls to the Western Wall. The cable car ride, which would cross over the Hinnom Valley, would take a mere five minutes. Both city and transportation ministry officials are examining the plan as one of the "unconventional solutions" to a very mundane problem or urban life: traffic congestion. This problem is especially severe in the narrow cobblestone streets of the Old City on Jewish holidays, as well as on Mondays and Thursdays when it is customary to read from the Bible during morning prayers. "We cannot let the situation remain as it is today," Elgrably said. It was not immediately clear who would pay for the project. The Jerusalem Municipality declined comment on the plan Wednesday. The Western Wall is Jerusalem's - and Israel's - top tourist attraction, with an estimated five million people visiting the Jerusalem holy site this past year. Cable cars can be found in Israel at Masada, in Rosh Hanikra, Haifa and the Hermon.