Worth the Wait?

Today, I made my first journey on the new Jerusalem Light Railway. Yes, it’s finally here for real and (since August 19th) actually carrying passengers. During the run-in period, which is to say, till tomorrow, it’s free. Personally, I think they ought to let Jerusalem residents travel on it gratis for the next three years to compensate us for the hell it’s made of our lives while they dug up, filled in, dug up, re-filled, dug-up and re-filled again, large tracts of downtown Jerusalem – and not only downtown. All this for just one line, running from the Neve Ya’acov neighbourhood, in the north of Jerusalem, to Mount Herzl –  which isn’t even in the southernmost part of the city. For this, our lives have been rendered hideous for – how many years is it now? I’ve lost count.

How was it? Not an experience of unmitigated bliss, I’m sorry to say. Basically, it was just like travelling in one of the long, articulated Egged buses. It was crowded and noisy and sweaty (admittedly, this was the rush hour). Furthermore, the electronic notice boards inside the carriages which are supposed to announce the next stop, only do so just as the train (well, technically, it’s a tram) is pulling into the station – and well beyond any given station, they’re still telling you that the station you have just left is the next station.

They have not yet announced what the fares will be – I think it hasn’t even been decided – and, in fact, it’s possible that the free trial runs (in which members of  the public are serving as guinea-pigs to test if the carriages can pass over the Calatrava-designed Chord Bridge at the entrance to the city fully-loaded, without the bridge collapsing)  may continue for some time yet.

On the plus side – it looks very good and it’s lovely to see the centre of town without petrol-hungry vehicles polluting the atmosphere and making it dangerous to cross the street.

Finally, we’ve managed to get one up on Tel Aviv when it comes to modernisation. Tel Aviv has recently overhauled its bus services – but Jerusalem has the only Light Railway (aka tram line) in Israel.

About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
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1 Response to Worth the Wait?

  1. Did they think about where all those displaced cars and buses are going to go? I don’t think a resident of Gilo, Talpiot Mizrach or Gonen is going to leave their car at home because he/she can take a bus between Neve Ya’akov and Mount Herzl.

    Will the buses that used to run along Jaffa Road continue to use the road behind the Shuk? The road isn’t wide enough and it is dangerous to pedestrians.

    I think they haven’t thought this one through or joined up the dots. In a few years time, some one is going to have to sort out the mess.

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