Starting Friday, bus #2 going to the Western Wall will be no more. According to a representative of the Ministry of Transportation, Jerusalem is meeting the needs of the people and improving how to get around in Israel's capital city based on in depth surveys and questionnaires.
Bus lines 2, 9A, 10, 15 and 15A will be eliminated in favor of the new 35, 40, 52, 53, 53A, 55 and 57 lines. Agrippas Street which runs past the Mahane Yehuda open air marketplace, also known as the shuk, will have less traffic as bus lines are redirected.
Flyers have been distributed on buses since Sunday. Approximately 200 workers have been stationed at select bus stops to hand out new schedules and maps. A full page ad appeared in the Jerusalem Post announcing the changes last Friday. The changes will take effect on Friday June 29th.
Dror Ganon, the man responsible for public transportation in the Ministry of Transposition spoke with Arutz Sheva - Israel National News about the changes.
"The changes are to improve the bus lines and to solve many problems that we had in the past," he stated. "Mainly the changes are because of our surveys. We asked the passengers and the general public, both older and younger, about their needs and how we can improve." Ganon said that the changes will eliminate redundancy in the bus routes and make the trips more efficient. "We added 23% more trips, including more stops arriving near the Mahane Yehuda marketplace," he stated.
In January of 2011 Jaffa Road, the main thoroughfare in Jerusalem was shut down to buses and vehicular traffic in favor of the new light rail train system. All buses were diverted to the narrow Agrippas Street which runs alongside the shuk and past the Nachlaot neighborhood. According to the Ministry of Transportation, the new bus schedule will result in 250 less buses every day on Agrippas Street.
For example, the #7 bus, servicing Talpiot, Geulim/Baka and other southern neighborhoods used to travel past the shuk and on to the Central Bus Station from Jaffa Road. It now travels down Agrippas and to the Central Bus Station. Starting Friday, it will travel down Betzalel Street and go to the Givat Ram campus of Hebrew University instead.
Many of the new lines will be wheelchair accessible. Passengers may need to walk to a different bus stop or to the light rail to complete their trip. As was before, riders will be able to transfer to another bus or onto the light rail for free using the Rav Kav card or a bus transfer.
Concerning on the elimination of bus #2 to the Western Wall, known in Hebrew as the Kotel, Ganon said, "We checked this line many times in the past and we saw that most of the people from Har Nof go to the Kotel from the Romema neighborhood. The number of buses straight to the Kotel from Har Nof are very low, so we wanted to improve service. We gave the Kotel a different line which will be more more reliable to the passengers," said Ganon. "We made two lines and increased the number of trips to almost double to give the best service."
Ganon says that the new changes are not necessarily permanent. "One week after the changes, we will see if we have any problems, and we can change things if need be. In the last 8 years we added almost 80% more trips and lines. Jerusalem's demographics are changing. We heard the people in the field and we are changing to fit the needs," he stated.
Regarding the future of the light rail, Ganon said within the next five years, new lines will be installed including access to such neighborhoods as Neve Yaakov, Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital and the Hebrew University Mount Scopus campus.
The new bus lines will be 35, 40, 52, 53, 53A, 55 and 57. The bus lines undergoing new routes will be 3, 7, 9, 14, 60, 75, 4, 4A, 17, 45, 25, 54, 56, 56A, 64, 67, and 74. Bus 5A will be changing its route number to 51.
A PDF file download of the entire new schedule in English can be obtained by clicking here.
The Ministry of Transport's Jerusalem transportation website in English can be found by clicking here.
For a past article on changes in Jerusalem transportation click here.