Hebrew daily "Yediot Ahronot" reports that, given the constant delays in the Tel Aviv light rail project, the Ministry of Transport has decided on an alternative plan: upgraded buses, which will travel above ground along the light rail's route, including its underground sections.
"Yediot Ahronot" says that revolution in the greater Tel Aviv subway will take place next year, but with major changes: buses instead of trains, and the underground section will be above ground on designated lanes on city streets. The Ministry of Transport decided to implement the alternative plan, after seeing that the plan to build the greater Tel Aviv light rail and subway was delayed and would not be completed before 2035.
"Yediot Ahronot" says that Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz will soon submit to the cabinet the plan for the operation of bus rapid transit (BRT) high-capacity bi-articulated buses, similar to the Metronit buses which began operating in Haifa last week. The buses will travel on designated lanes in Israel's congested areas in metropolitan Tel Aviv, the Sharon, and Beersheva.
The BRT should save passengers valuable time. Travel time from Rishon LeZion to Tel Aviv, which currently takes 45 minutes by bus, will be cut to 19 minutes; and travel time from Netanya to Tel Aviv will be just 20 minutes. The Ministry of Transport plans for at least 30% of commuters to switch to public transport.
The BRT buses, which can carry up to 152 passengers, will operate along the Tel Aviv light rail's Red Line, which will only open in ten years, running from Bat Yam in the south through Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, and Bnei Brak, to Petah Tikva in the east. In Beersheva, a BRT line is planned to run along Rager Avenue to the suburbs, and in the Sharon, BRT lines are planned to link Kfar Saba with Ra'anana, Herzliya, and Tel Aviv.
Although the BRT plan is intended to revolutionize travel time between major cities, to realize the plan, it will be necessary to add designated lanes in the cities. These lanes will mainly come at the expense of parking along traffic arteries or regular lanes on streets such as Hashalom Road in Tel Aviv and Weizmann Street in Kfar Saba, which will be expropriated for buses. Expropriating these lanes is liable to cause severe congestion.
"Yediot Ahronot" says that the Ministry of Transport is seeking parking lots and public spaces and is trying to persuade the mayors of 15 cities in central Israel to agree to the plan, which will require the public to forego using cars along traffic arteries.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 18, 2013
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