The Red Line of the Jerusalem Light Rail is, by most counts, a success. Research by the Jerusalem Transport Master Plan (JTMT) demonstrates that not only has the light rail been a boon for the downtown area, but that it is also slowly changing how residents approach transportation throughout the city.
Just two years after beginning operation in 2011, the number of daily passengers on the Red Line grew from an average of 100,000 to 140,000. Today more than 150,000 passengers use the train daily and an impressive 15% of riders report that they no longer use their private vehicles. This result is considered high.
Additionally, air quality in the area has been so vastly improved that carbon monoxide emissions have dropped from 500 parts per million to fewer than 100 parts per million. Astoundingly, pollution fell to such negligible levels that monitoring was deemed unnecessary.
This is good news for pedestrians, whose numbers increased by 11% between 2011 and 2012 and for the businesses that are now thriving due to increased foot traffic. Expansion of the light rail, and specifically of the Red Line, is not only logical, it’s natural.
Work on the extension is already visible on the roads leading up to Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem and the planned final terminal station is being built alongside a new inpatient building. The rail will be integrated along the narrow route through new infrastructure when necessary (video below).
The Red Line is also being extended to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem at Mount Scopus and Givat Ram, linking the two branches through a campus line. A bridge above the Begin Highway will facilitate the connection.
Construction is expected to last for nearly five years and is being funded as part of a government budget of 25 billion shekels set aside for the Jerusalem Light Rail network, which includes the Blue and Green lines.