MKs discuss aerial tram to Jerusalem’s Old City

Proponents: It will make capital’s tourist sites more accessible while solving area traffic jams.

view of Jerusalem, Old City 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
view of Jerusalem, Old City 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Forget the thousands of dilapidated buses belching plumes of diesel, squeezing through the narrow streets, and imagine arriving at the Old City of Jerusalem flying meters above archeological ruins in a glass cable car.
A special Knesset session of the Jerusalem Lobby on Wednesday was dedicated to exploring the feasibility of a cable car leading to the Old City, which supporters claim will improve accessibility for tourists with disabilities and reduce traffic.
“I remember the cable car on Mount Zion during the War of Independence,” Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said at the opening of the session. “There are things that seem impossible – like a cable car passing over us – because they require more effort on behalf of future generations.”
Rivlin added that the traffic from the 150,000 tourists per month in the Old City creates “unbearable crowding” that also stops Jerusalemites from moving freely around their city. Rivlin proposed an economic feasibility study to examine the cost of such an initiative in greater detail.
According to a plan from the Transportation Ministry, a cable car could carry up to 4,000 passengers an hour, eliminating the need for some of the 3,000 buses that drive in and around the Old City each month. The plan also stipulated that the cable car would be environmentally friendly and would not harm the view or surroundings of the historic area.
The plan also claims that the cable car would itself become a tourist attraction, and that the price paid by tourists would reduce the high cost of building it.
“The Old City in Jerusalem is the center of tourism and the most visited place in Israel, but the problems of access to the city keep tourists from enjoying its wonders, and even negatively impact the success of business owners,” said MK Yulia Shamolov Berkovich (Kadima), head of the Jerusalem Lobby in the Knesset.
“There is no doubt that a cable car would be an easy solution that would increase the number of visitors and be an enjoyable tourist attraction for the entire family, even attracting Jerusalemites,” she said.
The cable car would stretch across the Kidron Valley, from the building that houses the Government Printing Office on Rehov Miriam Hashmonaite, to the Dung Gate. The 1,030-meter-long ride would take approximately 3 minutes, 30 seconds.
The cost of building a cable car, and the sensitivity of the Old City, could be obstacles to the plan. London is racing to build its own cable car across the Thames River before the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, in a project that will cost an estimated $80 million.