Get stuck in an Israeli gridlock and you feel like you are better off in LA. The fast lane doesn’t really work. Traffic in the Mediterranean sun makes people nervous, especially when it can take you an hour to drive 3 miles. There is no wonder the dangerous but fast electric mopeds and bikes have taken the city by storm. With little oversight and supervision, kids bones are getting broken and grannies overturned as the merciless young cyclists overtake the citizens of Jaffa and Tel Aviv, day by day by day.
The idea of an Israeli subway system always seemed perilous in the height of terror attacks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. A bus with 20 or 50 people blowing up isn’t tolerable, but a mass transit system with an expected 2 million passengers per day, about 1/4 of the country’s population? That’s what’s being planned for Israel. We imagine the terrorist threat is either under control, or we’ve got bigger fish to fry.
The Greater Tel Aviv Metro M2 line was presented earlier this spring in Israel amidst the corona crisis. This line will be about 15 miles long and will connect the suburban cities of Petah Tikva to Holon, with Tel Aviv and Jaffa in the middle.
The overdue project is being implemented by government company NTA – Metropolitan Mass Transit Ltd. About 90 miles of subway is being planned for the country. Consider the size of Israel – about the same size as New Jersey. A nation-wide subway system wouldn’t be thought impossible.
The central M2 line will have 22 stations and among other locations will serve Bar-Ilan University, Bloomfield Stadium in Jaffa, the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, Habimah Theater and Wolfson Hospital.
Like Elon Musk touted in California with the announcement of his Boring Company if you can’t go over traffic, you might as well tunnel below it. The Israeli system won’t be tunnels for your cars, but rather an underground train system like in New York City. Tunnel boring machines are expected to dig as much as 10 meters per day (about 11 yards) which will be about 25-40 meters or yards underground, with a diameter of 7 yards. This new subway or underground train will complement the light rail train currently being built throughout Tel Aviv and Jaffa.
Avoid a transport system collapse
With the income levels of people rising and the need to commute to work to cities like Herzliya, citizens demand a better way to get around, especially from inside the city. We also expect tourism, post covid-19 will want to enjoy a good public system.
To get to another city like Jerusalem from inside Tel Aviv, expect your journey to last at least a few hours or more once there. While major transport hubs exist and are okay (actually rather loathsome and confusing), getting there is a challenge and getting to your destination – the last mile – is impossible especially in cities like Jerusalem where the bus system is complex and hard to navigate.
I used to take the train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem years ago to get dropped off in a far away suburb that buses don’t pass through. You needed a car to take the train! Things have been improved since the creation of a new Tel Aviv to Jerusalem line.
The point of the subway system, the project builders argue, is to make cars extraneous, explained Gilad Zwebner, VP Planning and Design of NTA – Metropolitan Mass Transit Ltd., the government company implementing the metro system. Zwebner has said that 90% of traffic in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan area is from private vehicles.
“A system based on a metro could bring us to 40% usage of vehicular traffic. According to all the scenarios that were considered, without a metro, there would be a complete collapse of the transport system,” said Sharav.
One more question: will it run on solar or renewable energy? Please say yes. Israel needs to increase its commitment to solar energy. Read here.