Delays on the New Light Rail

Light rail passengers: "It's operating like an amusement park ride"

The light rail brought hope to passengers, but in reality, there is a lack of adherence to schedules, and journeys are extending by a factor of two. One passenger stated, "If at the end of the high-speed phase above ground, it's like being on a bus stuck in traffic, then all the efficiency of the ride goes down the drain"

(Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash 90)

The light rail in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area was launched with great fanfare and the hope of reaching destinations swiftly without encountering traffic congestion. However, it turns out that reality is different, as the lack of adherence to schedules is still evident.

Here's what happened: On Monday, August 21st, at 5:00 PM, Eden, a resident of Tel Aviv, decided to make her way from the Allenby Station to Hakomemiut using the light rail. She opened the app, which displayed a 22-minute ride. "Sounds great, to the point where it's even worth it for me, despite having a 10-minute walk to my exact destination – it's still better than a bus that takes 50 minutes," Eden recounted. However, in practice, the journey took twice as long, and she reached her destination after 45 minutes. She points out that the delay occurred in the area of South Jaffa – Bat Yam, but towards the end of the ride in Bat Yam, there was improvement.

(Screenshot: Eden Ronen)

According to Eden's words, the problem lies, among other things, in the lack of prioritization at traffic lights for the light rail, which doubles the travel time. "If, at the end of the light rail's high-speed phase above ground, it's like being on a bus stuck in traffic, then all the efficient parts of the ride go to waste. We waited so long and had expectations. Luckily, at least there are sections where it goes underground, the speed is as it should be, and it shortens travel times – right now, that's the only justification for taking the Red Line."

A similar incident occurred with Noy, who resides in Rishon LeZion. On Tuesday, August 22nd, she took the light rail from the Hakomemiut Station in Bat Yam to the Allenby Station in Tel Aviv at 3:00 PM and returned at 4:20 PM. According to the app, each direction was supposed to take 22 minutes, but in reality, she traveled for about 55 minutes each way. According to her, "It took her the same amount of time to reach the same destination using a car. As long as the light rail is above ground and not underground, it moves slowly at a level of an amusement park ride for children, extremely slow. I personally don't think I'll use it."

Avichai from Giv'at Shmuel recounts a similar incident that happened to him. On August 24th, he boarded the "Kaf Tet BeNovember" train station in Bat Yam, which is two stations after Hakomemiut. From there, he traveled towards the Elifelet station, which is a station before Allenby. The journey took him about half an hour.

15 Minutes Association: "Give priority to traffic lights"

In the "15 Minutes Association," which promotes high-quality public transportation in Israel, they emphasize that the solution to the problem lies in prioritizing traffic lights. According to them: "In order for the light rail to truly be efficient, it must be given priority at traffic lights. It is impossible that a project in which so much money, time and resources have been invested cannot operate as needed on the tracks and become what it is supposed to be – an effective means of shortening travel times."

According to them: "Currently, a ride in the upper part of the light rail takes much more time than expected, significantly exceeding the estimates provided by various public transportation apps – which only demonstrates that with traffic light priority, travel times can be significantly reduced. We call on the municipalities of Bat Yam, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, and Petah Tikva, as well as the Ministry of Transportation, to work together and promptly promote traffic light prioritization."

From the company Tevel, operator of the Red Line of the light rail, it was stated: "The travel experience and service to passengers along the Red Line are at the forefront of our considerations, and we are investing significant resources and effort to ensure that passengers have a quality and pleasant service experience. From our examination, it has become clear that the delays reported by passengers were caused as a result of a suspicious object found on the train, which required inspection by our security personnel. The reason for slow speeds in certain parts is related to traffic light prioritization and is being addressed by all relevant parties involved. We hope that a solution will be found quickly."

From the NTA company, it was stated in response: "Along the route of the Red Line, there are 51 signaled intersections. Currently, calibration is being done to ensure that the light rail will receive priority and a green wave. This is a process and will take time."

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