Can a Light Rail Unify, Modernize Jerusalem?

The tag line for Jerusalem’s transportation master plan is "everything is connected," a resonant phrase for such a complicated place. Palestinians and Israelis, science and faith, politics and religion — it's all connected here but in a tenuous and tense way. Still, everyday life continues and the fact for many Jerusalemites is that traffic is terrible. It’s hard to get around even though the city is small, with a population of about 800,000 people.

As millions of Jews prepare for Passover seders that conclude with the words "Next Year, in Jerusalem," the city is struggling with very modern problems.

Many residents rely on public transportation here, meaning buses. According to the city’s own count, there are 500,000 trips per day. The main artery — Jaffa Street — at one point had 200 buses running in one hour, moving at about 5 kilometers an hour. Central Jerusalem was polluted, noisy and inefficient, according to transit official Nadav Meroz.

"So we took this corridor, which was the main corridor for private cars and public transport, and we brought it back for the people of Jerusalem," he said.

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