When Irritation Inhibits Progress

» Jerusalem has delayed its tramway project repeatedly over the past several years, leaving much of the city center torn up, with no relief in sight. The situation has severely damaged support for further transportation projects in this congested metropolis.

After two days in Jerusalem, I’ve never seen a group of people so annoyed at the prospect of getting a brand-new light rail system.

You’d think that they’d be excited about traveling more quickly in comfort through what has become a notoriously congested city, bringing reliable commutes to a place whose citizens have only had access to buses up to now — despite a large and growing population. Light rail’s potential as a big development generator seems hard to resist, especially since some of the city’s close-in areas have suffered from increasing competition from other neighborhoods in retail sales.

But the corporate entity building and eventually planning to run the system has

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Could Jerusalem Light Rail be a Train to Peace?

Arabs, already benefiting from rising land values around line under construction, clamor for more — including an extension into Palestine

Jerusalem’s almost-completed first phase of its new light rail system has generated considerable controversy — so much so that Mayor Nir Barkat has threatened replacing future extensions with bus rapid transit. The first 14-km project, which is expected to be completed next year, will extend through much of the metropolis, directly next to the Old City, and north past the 1949 Armistice Agreement “Green” Line towards Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. These areas are on the Israeli side of the controversial West Bank Wall, even though they’re within the theoretically Palestinian zone.

Al Bawaba reports that Arabs living in Israeli territory — that is, non-Jews living in Israel — see the light rail’s construction as highly advantageous, and want its expansion further north into the West

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Jerusalem Likely to Abandon Plans for More Light Rail Lines

Mayor Nir Barkat sees their cost as the primary problem and envisions BRT

The Jerusalem Post reports that new Mayor Nir Barkat will cancel the light rail program envisioned for Israel’s capital after the completion of the two initial lines currently under construction. Building the line has caused major headaches in the city core, and Mr. Barkat’s election win last year was in part due to his opposition to the continuation of the project, which would include five more lines. The two lines being built today, however, have been sped up since Mr. Barkat took office and will be completed by 2010 as I reported previously.

The mayor’s solution is bus rapid transit, because the buses would be “a fifth of the price and much easier to deploy” than light rail. “I cannot sign on it yet, but most likely those routes will be BRTs and not trains. [They are]

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Midwest HSR News; Jerusalem and Virginia Beach LRT

Midwest High-Speed Rail Has Many Backers for Stimulus Funds in Wisconsin, but Controversy Abounds in Minnesota

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle wants to see federal stimulus money used for the Midwest High-Speed Rail program. Meeting in Milwaukee, the Governor suggested that a line would run from Chicago to Minneapolis, through Milwaukee and Madison, with a potential extension to Green Bay. Mr. Doyle seems to know a little something about transportation, eschewing the typical superficial arguments to point out that all forms of transportation are subsidized by the government, so a public investment in rail isn’t somehow inappropriate:

Just as we heavily subsidize our road transportation system, we subsidize heavily our air transportation system. I don’t think people should say rail is somehow not subject to subsidy when the others are.

We’re obviously happy to hear such clear language from a Governor, and we hope to see more such arguments as the push for

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The Site / The Fight

  • by Yonah Freemark
  • Twitter: @yfreemark
  • yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com
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