Welcome to the CityPass Light Rail
The urban Light Rail concept is a form of public transportation in widespread use throughout the world, but which is relatively new to Israel.
Jerusalem, Israel’s largest city, and its capital, covers an area of about 126 square kilometers, and is home to more than 850,000 residents. The city is privileged to be the first and only one in Israel where the Light Rail operates.
The Jerusalem Light Rail began operating August 2011 and serves about 160,000 passengers daily. It is the backbone of the advanced, modern public transport system being built in the city and is one of the biggest urban transport infrastructure systems in Israel.
The variety of populations in Jerusalem, residents of the various neighborhoods, students, and many visitors and tourists – from Israel and throughout the world – have caused the city to hold the record for public transportation use, in comparison with other large Israel cities like Tel Aviv and Haifa. Jerusalem’s streets are too narrow for the numbers of buses and cars necessary for travel, which created heavy traffic in many parts of the city and made it difficult to reach the city centre. The residents, city centre traders, and the large neighbourhoods suffered from traffic jams, noise, pollution, and poor access.
These led the State’s decision-makers to issue a tender for constructing a Light Rail line in the city, the first of several that together will create a network of Light Rail lines and significantly improve traffic and access to and in Jerusalem, while ensuring the quality of the environment, a convenient journey, and full accessibility.
The CityPass – Jerusalem Light Rail Group was chosen to plan, build, operate, and maintain the Light Rail’s Red Line for 30 years. The CityPass Group brings with it to Jerusalem economic strength, technological innovation, and new and advanced service awareness. The group consists of companies that are leaders in their fields, all with rich experience and proven successes in carrying out complex projects. The companies that comprise the CityPass Group are Ashtrom, Ashtrom Properties, Harel, and the Israel Infrastructure Fund. The chair of CityPass is former Minister of Finance Avraham (Beiga) Shochat and the company’s CEO is Yaron Ravid.
The Light Rail system has a fleet of 23 trains each of which consist of two Citadis 302 model vehicles. The vehicles and the trains’ systems are manufactured in Alstom’s factories in La Rochelle, France.
Each vehicle is 32.52 meters long and 2.65 meters wide. Each train carries about 500 passengers, equal to 10 buses. This large capacity is possible because most of the train’s internal area is intended for passengers who travel while standing; this planning concept is based on relatively short urban rides. There are 112 permanent seats and priority is given to the elderly, while there are another 16 folding seats in each train for those with limited mobility.
The Jerusalem Light Rail is the first public transportation system in Israel that maintains priority at traffic lights. Information screens that are located at the Light Rail stations and in the vehicles provide real-time information to passengers and the full and convenient access is provided for those with limited mobility.
The Light Rail has reduced traffic on the city’s roads and the quality of life and the environment have improved significantly. The trains’ engines are silent and they travel quietly, therefore the Rail does not create noise disturbances. The level of air pollution on Yafo Street has also been reduced by about 70 percent as a result of operating the Light Rail. The noise levels along the route have decreased significantly, and whereas in the past Yafo Street was crammed with cars and polluted with exhaust fumes, the street has become a modern city centre, quiet, flourishing and full of life since the appearance of the Light Rail.
The Connect JLRT company was established led by CEO Eran Sechtman to operate the light rail and maintenance during its franchise period. The company provides full maintenance from the planning and building stage and ensures compliance with required operational standards. During the operation stage, the company is responsible for maintaining fault-free travel, adhering to the timetable, and providing customer service to passengers.
As part of the vision for reviving the city centre, the first line was planned to provide easy, convenient access to the renewed, developing city centre. Yafo Street, which is the main route, has changed its character and today it is a quiet, pleasant pedestrian pathway that allows passage to pedestrians and the Light Rail only.
Light Rail progress brought business and real estate prosperity and development in the city; cultural centres and attractions have grown through accessibility from large neighbourhoods, such as Pisgat Ze’ev, Bait ve-Gan, Beit ha-Kerem, Beit Hanina, Shuafat, French Hill, etc., to the city centre.
Travelers can reach the Light Rail stops from the different neighbourhoods throughout the city by means of a system of feeder bus routes, and can park your car in one of the Park & Ride parking lots to reach the Light Rail easily and conveniently.
Photo below by Hassan Hawiss, for the CityPass Photography Competition 2016.