Panacea or pain?

A number of transportation projects are currently in the works to provide long-term solutions to traffic, congestion and immobility within and en-route to Jerusalem. Some Jerusalem drivers complain that the construction involved in installing new roads and rails has only made city traffic less smooth and convenient. Time will tell whether or not these mass transportation investments will clear the path for better transport. The High-Speed Railway Israel Railways is currently paving the roads for the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv high-speed line, which will connect the two cities via Modi'in and Ben-Gurion Airport. The project combines innovative transportation technology never before used in Israel, including the building of an underground train station at the Jerusalem International Convention Center and a tunnel 11.5 kilometers long. Length of ride: 28 minutes Jerusalem-Tel Aviv; 17 minutes Tel Aviv-Mod'iin. Frequency: Three trains per hour Estimated completion of Tel Aviv-Modi'in line: October 2007 Estimated completion of Jerusalem-Tel Aviv line: 2011 Construction cost: NIS 4 billion The Light Rail: The Red Line The light rail, which last November laid its first track, is slated to make intra-city travel to the city center and the Central Bus Station more efficient and accessible. The first light rail will take passengers through 24 stations from Pisgat Ze'ev to Mount Herzl via the city center, and will serve more than 200,000 passengers a day on its 46 cars. Length of ride: 28 minutes during rush hour Frequency: Rush hour: every 4 minutes; Off-peak: every 8-12 minutes Estimated completion: January 2009 Construction cost: NIS 4.3 billion HGB High Grade Bus: The Blue Line The Blue Line will connect north and south Jerusalem, from Gilo to Ramot via the city center, using an updated, state-of-the-art bus system. These new buses will feature hybrid engines and seating for 180 passengers. Traffic lights will change automatically to give immediate right of way to oncoming buses. Part of the infrastructure for this line is already in place and now serves regular Egged busses. Length of ride: Approximately 30 minutes during rush hour Frequency: Rush hour, every 3-5 minutes; off-peak, every 6-10 minutes Estimated completion of infrastructure: August 2008 Construction cost: NIS 180 million (not including buses) Route 9 Route 9 is currently being constructed to connect the Motza region to neighborhoods in northern Jerusalem via the intersection at Golda Meir Boulevard and the Begin highway. This road is designed to provide a new access point into the city from the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway and therefore to ease congestion at the main Jerusalem entrance. Construction Cost: NIS 480 million Estimated completion: Jerusalem Day 2007