The Big Felafel

The Jerusalem Light Rail: The Ticket is More Than Full Price

I suck at this!

Wow it has been way too long since we have blogged. I am sure it’s been a difficult few months for you, our readers. How have you managed to live without my adorable sarcastic posts and Rebecca’s incredibly informative write-ups?

So let’s just jump right (or write) in. I’m writing what I am sure will be one of many angry light-rail train posts. Now that the train has been up and ‘running’ for the last few months, I am interested to hear what people think of it. So share your comments with me after you finish reading.

On principal I am not riding it. That and it doesn’t actually go anywhere I need to go.

However, the train and I have met in passing. It’s like a bad date you have to keep reliving, because the person lives a few blocks from you. So, indeed I am not at all fond of this crap train. The train butchered the city with its tracks. It forced stores to close down, has turned the city center into a pretty little ghost town. It causes traffic jams. And some old guy just got hit by it.

But the worst of all? The city is using it as yet another way to rob its citizens. No, I am not referring to the ticket price (as I write this, news has just broken that they plan to charge NIS 6.40 for a ride). No I am referring to the ticket you get when your car gets stuck in the intersection thanks to the new traffic light system, programmed for the train and not the people.

Do I think Israeli drivers are more dangerous than the threat of Iran actually building nukes? Yes I do. But the ones that are getting ticketed at the intersection of Jaffa (by the municipality) are getting fines for fake reasons.

That’s right, the police are standing by waiting for cars to get stuck in the intersection where they then tap on the window, ask the driver to come with them, and give them a big fat ticket. I have heard from several people that the tickets range from NIS 500 to NIS 1,000. I have also heard and even seen for myself that hundreds of people are getting tickets. You do the math on that and you’ll see how the city is planning to get itself out of debt with this method.

Before you get to this evil intersection, you are stuck in a horrendous traffic jam. I believe this is the part of the psychological torture that drives the drivers into the intersection where they get stuck. Instead of having two lanes, all the cars are forced into one lane, thus further frustrating your target ticket audience. Add to it, the many drivers that cut the line of cars by driving on the wrong side of the street, and you have a pretty angry driver that just wants to cross the light already and get from A to B. And I don’t have to tell you that the drivers who are driving on the wrong side of the street, literally meters from the police, don’t get a ticket. Why would they.

The train sucks. Its only lightness is how light it is on any concept of how to truly benefit the city and people. The city sucks for handing out tickets to drivers that don’t deserve them, while standing by and doing nothing about the real issues. With all this sucking, you would think that the whole problematic ordeal could be sucked away into a black hole somewhere.



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  1. * Sharon says:

    Wow, I couldn’t possibly disagree more. For those of us who DO live where the train goes, it’s been nothing but good. It gets to its destination faster than the buses, carries far more passengers at a time, and is quieter, cleaner, and less intrusive in our neighborhoods. A recent visitor from Canada was nothing but impressed by it.

    As for the fines for blocking the intersections, people should just STOP doing it. Why should 500 people on a train be stuck because of one inconsiderate person in a car who can’t wait for the next green light? I cross the train tracks twice on my way home and have never had a reason to block the tracks.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
    • * Molly says:

      Happy to hear it is helping you out. But again, the drivers are actually getting stuck in the intersection, not just being typically israeli and blocking people. Unlike a pedestrian you can’ just run out of the way. I agree that people should just stop blocking…but it really isn’t the case in this situation.

      | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
  2. * Sharon says:

    You can’t get stuck in an intersection if you didn’t drive into it in the first place. Drivers are meant to make sure they can get completely through an intersection before they enter it. I’m sure the rate of fines issued will drop over the next few weeks as careless drivers learn their lesson.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
  3. * Molly says:

    While I agree with what you are saying, I would say that this just doesn’t apply to that intersection. The rate of fines may drop but that is only because drivers are avoiding the area and taking the tunnel instead, causing further traffic jams. I am a very careful driver and entered the light when it turned green…turned green…and got stuck. So it isn’t as simple as you are making it out to be.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
  4. * Aryeh says:

    How do you get “stuck in an intersection??
    The law clearly states that one may not enter an intersection unless they are immediately able to vacate it. So what if the light turns green? These fines should be enforced elsewhere as well! (such as Agron corner of David Hamelech)

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
    • * Molly says:

      I get what you are saying, but all i can say in return is- have you been to this intersection? It defies all rules. Not only that, there is a much larger problem here if these intersections can not even be entered on a green light. My point is not to say people are not doing illegal things…but rather to say that the cops are purposely standing there knowing what will happen, when there are plenty more illegal things happening all over the city and even just meters from where they are standing…and yet no one is doing anything about it.

      | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
  5. * Susanne says:

    Molly, you obviously don’t take public transportation in Jerusalem a lot. I don’t have a car, and even if I had a car, I would not take it in Jerusalem. You think it is your god-given right to try to beat the light. As a results poor suckers like me get stuck on the bus or the light rail. The light rail is generally a pleasure to take. It makes my ride to the bus station much faster. Buses and light rail should always have the right-off way, because people should be discouraged to ride their cars within the city. And don’t come with the argument that it takes too long to take a bus. Buses often get stuck because of people like you, who ignore the traffic laws.
    Also, the person who got hit by the train, cross the tracks in front of the train, and not at a cross walk! This could have happened with a bus or a car.
    Downtown Jerusalem is a pleasure to be now, much calmer and quieter without all the cars.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
    • * Molly says:

      Hi Susanne,
      I used to take public transportation a lot and the only reason I drive is because it is faster to get to work. In fact today I took public transportation and it took triple the amount of time to get where I needed to go, but was a much nicer experience once on the bus, since I didn’t have to drive and risk my life, get caught off every two seconds or just worry in general. I think what we have here is the typical pedestrian v. car driver fight. I have been on both sides. But certainly I do not believe it is my god-given right to beat a light. I am a very cautious driver and only drive when I need to, otherwise I am on a bicycle…which believe is way worse than being on a bus, train or walking in this city. I am not for the train and never have been. I don’t believe its route is effective for most people and that it has caused a lot of destruction to the city over the past few years and a lot of debt. I am happy to hear that some people are enjoying their rides, but I still do not agree with what it did to the city. I think it had a lot of potential that left to corrupt politicians and businessmen and builders was destroyed. As for drivers and beating lights- I believe this is a serious problem in general all over the country. But in this specific traffic light that I speak of in the article, I am only saying that you are not teaching Israelis to be safe drivers by ticketing them if the police are always there. All it teaches is to be careful at that intersection…but a few feet from the intersection they are still driving like animals, cutting through traffic on the other side of the street. I would love to never have to use my car and only take a bus or train…but if I truly tried to do that I would have to take at least 2 buses or a bus and a train to get anywhere and end up waiting for any of this transportation in the time I could have been there by car. I wish I was better with the bicycle, then I would go everywhere with that…but I am not in shape enough for that option, plus the rain factor in the winter. I appreciate your comments, but please again understand I am referring to this one intersection and my feelings about the train. If you see in the article, I have hyper linked (in the crap train sentence) to a very established website that also identifies the many problems with the train, so it is not just me who is disgruntled, but even the professionals.

      | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
  6. * Avi says:

    The traffic lights are programmed “for the train and not the people”? The train is the people, or at least the people riding it. Of course we want cars to stay out of the way of a vehicle that serves the greater good of many people. Why shouldn’t a train with carrying hundreds of people not get hundreds of times more preference than one person’s polluting car.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
  7. * batyah says:

    the problem with that intersection is that the ‘straight only’ lanes merge into one lane of traffic, and alot of people who are in the ‘left turn only’ lane, end up going straight, and so those who are legally going in the straight lane have to compete with these jerkoffs who merge into their lanes. thats prolly why so many ppl get stuck!

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
    • * Molly says:

      Yes! Thank you for explaining it! That is the problem. I think everyone has made a lot of good points. But just because there are hundreds of people on a train, doesn’t give the city the right to purposely ticket people at that intersection when there is plenty of illegal happening a few feet away that no one is doing anything about. That is all I am trying to say. If people are for the train…which until this blog post, I had no idea there were people Pro-Light Rail, then great, I am happy it is serving its purpose…but that doesn’t grant the right to punish cars. Believe me if I could take that train to get where I need to go I would…but it doesn’t help me. And as I have said before, I would ride my bike everywhere, except I would like to still have my body parts attached to me. Keep the comments coming, it’s great to hear what people are saying!

      | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
  8. * David says:

    1. The City doesn’t get a penny.
    Parking tickets given by parking inspectors go to the City. I don’t know what happens to police fines but they don’t go to the City in which they are issued.

    2. I agree that there are some intersections where you enter the intersection on green, with the expectation that you will clear the intersection. That may well be the case at this intersection, I don’t know. Though it sounds like that’s not the case.

    (i) At many intersections drivers just go into the intersection and are happy to block it for other drivers. Often this selfishness can cause a huge traffic jam.

    (ii) In a regular intersection no lives are lost. At a train intersection the danger is much greater, as the train cannot brake suddenly or veer out of the way.

    I share your frustration with everything connected to this train and then some. However, IMHO ticketing people who block train intersections is indirect pikuach nefesh. A ticket, as annoying and “unjust” as it may be, does sometimes save lives.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
    • * Molly says:

      I still think some of the money from a fine must find its way back into a city budget. Greatly appreciate your perspective!

      | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
  9. * Dvora says:

    Molly, I am so glad you got out of your car once and took a bus. But taking the bus as MOST of us do takes a big tole on our bodies. The bus drivers have a heavy foot on the gas and on the brake causing a learching ride that causes neck problems, shoulder problems for those standing frequently, and frequent falls and trampled feet. The buses are full of smoke when they start the trip because Egged’s drivers think that the bus is their personal smoking lounge between rides. THE TRAIN IS THE BEST TRANSPORTATION AVAILABLE. I am thrilled with it. I travel from Maale Adumim to Hadassah Ein Kerem daily. I take a bus to the T”M and the train then a bus again. I can’t wait till the train goes the whole way. My Hofshi Hodshi has DECREASED in price! B”H for the train, smooth, fast, clean, fresh air and as far as I’m concerned free cause it’s not a sheckel more to me.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
    • * Molly says:

      I am very used to the crazy bus drivers, which is why I always prefer walking or riding my bike as the best mode of transportation. And of course as a driver you are also used to crazy bus drivers who are constantly cutting you off in order to get in front of you to get to the same red light. I would love the light rail to expand and go to locations all over the city one day after they get all the kinks out. Thanks for the comment!

      | Reply Posted 11 years, 5 months ago
  10. * Sharon A says:

    Thanks so much for giving the perfect way to use all the light rail photos I had wanted …your letter really was unsettling, not sure why, but hope you approve of the results.

    Jerusalem Light Rail Rolls (Roils) On

    The Real Jerusalem Streets

    ps I really think you should use more of my stuff but…this one is special for you.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 5 months ago
    • * Molly says:

      Dear disgruntled light train rider,
      While I don’t have pictures (loved yours), I don’t think you fully got the picture I was drawing. I didn’t get a ticket. But as you mentioned in your post, there are cops waiting to pull people over…yes, as I mentioned in my post, this is one of those locations. I’m glad you can go almost anywhere and that it still takes a long time…I have not found the train to actually go places that I need it to. Which is mainly why I don’t bother riding it, free or not. In most cases I can walk or ride my bike faster than the train. And while you squish into the train…I am squishing into the lanes, where aggressive drivers try to get me off the road so they can get one car ahead of me and wait at the same red light. This isn’t a 1% issue of the haves and the have nots, this is just me expressing the pros and cons of the light rail. This is just me saying that the city should have police doing their job, rather than conveniently giving out tickets to people getting stuck in a ridiculous light. If they truly monitored the streets then we would all be a lot safer. But yay, that we both have blogs. And thank you for giving me my own post on your blog…which is awesome and we will use it more! Send us your pictures anytime.

      | Reply Posted 11 years, 5 months ago
  11. * Sharon A says:

    I walk. I only took the light rail for a few stops because it was the last free day.
    Another favorite this week:a police car was blocking all traffic onto Agripas. I asked people coming what happened, gee maybe a chance for my “Reuters” shot He said ” Happy Hour, everyday is Happy Hour in Jerusalem” A bus load of people had to walk out to a bus that was not allowed to turn. Loved the taxi that
    did a u turn and backed up the other side of the street, now that is a real Jerusalem driver! Everyone else honked and could not figure out where to go.
    Gave up and left, the police seemed to being doing nothing but causing a bit of chaos.

    Wait… if you are a bike rider, Did you ride with Alberto? Tour de Jerusalem

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 5 months ago
    • * Molly says:

      I didn’t have a chance to ride…but I will be running in the first Jerusalem Night Run taking place on Dec.12 at 8pm. The roads will be closed for it! So excited. Yes, it seems in this country law and police don’t necessarily work together!

      | Reply Posted 11 years, 5 months ago
  12. * Sharon A says:

    Sure but please give credit to The Real Jerusalem Streets! Glad you like them…

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 5 months ago
  13. * Julie says:

    If I can belabor the car-pedestrian issue a bit … it’s worth pointing out that for people with young children who live in the city’s peripheral neighborhoods, no mode of public transit, however quiet, pleasant and eco-friendly, is going to be as useful as a car. (This is partly due to the fact that some ofJerusalem’s “urban suburbs” tend to offer little in the way of services and amenities, forcing people to go outside their neighborhoods much more than they would like to.) I’m a big fan of walkability, but there are certain elements of the population that are unavoidably car-dependent, at least in our current reality. Transit versus automobile is not a black-and-white issue.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 5 months ago
    • * Molly says:

      Extremely well said! A very sad but true point about the current situation for many suburb areas.

      | Reply Posted 11 years, 5 months ago
  14. * Sharon A says:

    Julie, totally agree! The young families are where the prices are a bit more affordable.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 5 months ago

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