“I used to get off at the old bus station, and to me it was like another country…” goes the Tipex song (free translation mine). Above: Tel Aviv’s Old Central Bus Station demolished. Photo by Moran Beth Halachmi, via Flickr.
This week, Tel Aviv’s unused Old Central Bus Station became history. The much-maligned New Central Bus Station may soon follow suit, while a New New Central Bus Station is still in the planning stages.
It sometimes seems to me that there must be some kind of curse on all things transportation in Tel Aviv. The traffic jams are unbearable, the drivers obnoxious, the buses lousy and the bus station even lousier. And who even knows if the light rail/subway project will ever actually happen…
Recently, however, things have started to happen in Neveh Sha’anan, where the old and new bus stations lie on opposite sides of a busy pedestrian mall.
The old bus station, more or less abandoned (except for a couple of businesses and perhaps the occasional junkie) since the early 1990’s, was demolished last week. After the Egged bus company finally vacated the place, the city decided to redevelop it. The first new tenant will be the Minshar art school, which will build a brand new building on the site. Other educational institutions are expected to follow, and in the meantime the rest of the plot will be transformed into a temporary park.
Meanwhile, local newspapers have been abuzz lately with rumors that the New Central Bus Station, an almost universally detested structure credited with destroying the entire surrounding neighborhood, may soon be vacated as well. Billed as the world’s biggest bus station, the place has never functioned well, is almost impossible to navigate and much of its commercial space sits unused.
Bus companies Egged and Dan are reportedly fed up with the place, and are looking to transfer their activities elsewhere when their contracts with the station’s owners expire in a couple of years. The Ministry of Transportation and the Tel Aviv Municipality are said to support the move, according to local newspaper Ha’ir.
According to Ha’ir, a new transportation terminal is likely to be built at the Holon Interchange, south of the existing station. The current bus station, which was recently aquired by new owners, may be reincarnated, possibly as a skyscraper development. Or, the new owners might be able to convince the bus companies to stay put. In either case, any change in the status quo is likely to take years to pan out.
But if a New New Central Bus Station is in the cards for Tel Aviv, let’s hope that this time they do it right.
Other ways to get around Tel Aviv: