Report: City Blew It on Light Rail Planning

The Jerusalem light rail is a victim of increased rock attacks - and its passengers, the taxpayers, victims of poor planning, a report said.

Moshe Cohen ,

Light Rail (illustration)
Light Rail (illustration)
Flash 90

The Jerusalem light rail has found itself a victim of increased rock attacks by Arabs in recent months, but a report by the State Comptroller Wednesday said that the rail system – or rather the taxpayers who funded it - had also been victims, of corruption, cost overruns, and inefficiency in the building and running of the system.

Planning and construction of the system took eight years, the report said – far longer than anyone anticipated. But even then, planners couldn't get it right. Grand goals, including making commute times faster and lowering air pollution in the city, were part of the original plan, but no details to bring those goals to fruition were developed.

In addition, the light rail has still not been properly factored into the rest of the city's transportation system, which is why commuters often find themselves waiting long minutes for a bus or train when they need to connect. The report recommended a complete overhaul of scheduling in the city's transport system to accommodate passengers using both the train and bus system.

In addition, costs have been significantly higher for the system than had originally been proposed. One reason for this, the report said, was because the system's infrastructure budget was open-ended, with officials reviewing it every year and adding money as needed. Far better, the report said, would be to allocate a set sum and use it to complete the system, forcing planners and builders to spend money more efficiently.