Tel Aviv light rail ’s second line given go ahead

Tel Aviv light rail ’s second line given go ahead :NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System has received preliminary approval for its Green Line to connect Rishon Lezion and Herzliya.

Work on the first line of the Tel Aviv light rail – the Red Line – may have only started yesterday, but the first steps have already been taken on the light-rail’s second line – the Green Line. The plan for the central component of the line passed its initial approval and was sent to the National Infrastructure Committee with several conditions, sources inform “Globes”.

Once the conditions have been met by NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System, the public will have 60 days to submit its objections against the plan, after which it will be passed on to the government for final approval.

The light rail’s Green Line will connect the southern sections of the Tel Aviv metropolitian area – Holon and the outskirts of Rishon LeZion – with the northern suburbs (namely, Herzliya), while also increasing access to major employment centers like Ramat Hahayal, Tel Aviv University, Holon, Rishon LeZion, and Herzliyah Pituach.

At 39 kilometers, the Green Line will be the longest of the eight planned for the city’s transit system. Some 4.5 kilometers of the line will be underground, while commuters will be able to board at 61 stations, including 5 underground stops at Levinsky, Carlebach, Dizengoff, Rabin Square, and Arlozorov.

The line’s southern portion splits at Rishon LeZion, with a western section beginning at the Moshe Dayan Station and the eastern section at the junction with Road 412. The two tracks tread a path along Holon until they unite at the city center. After merging, the line will continue north along Har Zion Boulevard until the Central Bus Station, where it will start its underground path before resurfacing ahead of crossing the Yarkon River.

After reaching the north end of Tel Aviv, the line will split again, with one track heading east to Ramat Hahayal and the other tracking the beach northwards until Herzliya’s industrial park.

The plan, preliminarily approved last week, is contingent on reaching an agreement with the Tel Aviv Municipality as well as discussions on whether the light rail should remain underground until after the Yarkon River or resurface ahead of the crossing.

Sources in the sector believe that the conditions will be met within a month, at which point the public will be given 60 days to object to the plans. Deputy mayor for transportation Meital Lehavi said “work must be completed on the Red Line and the Green Line simultaneously. The Red Line is not enough on its own. If the public wakes up in 10 years and realizes there’s only one line, they’ll ask ‘why did we suffer?’”

She stressed, “the Green Line is the most significant for the city of Tel Aviv.”

She also added that, “What happened with the Red Line in regards to informing and involving the public it must not happen again with the other lines. The public must be informed gradually and not at the last second with an attitude of ‘take it or leave it’.”

Gearing up

The Green Line, as planned, will travel through four municipalities – Rishon Lezion, Holon, Tel Aviv, and Herzliya. According to Herzliya Deputy Mayor Maya Katz, “Herzliya Municipality believes that the Green Line is important. However, we are not fully satisfied with it. Currently there are plans to set up a station in the industrial zone of Herzliya, but not at the city’s train station. Thus, the planned line does not maximize the potential number of users.”

The Holon Municipality also praised the notion of the Green Line but claimed that it raised several concerns with the infrastructure committee, which had yet to be answered and that, “The municipality did not see the last draft of the plan before its approval. We intend to file objections to every concern that was not answered, as a matter of principle.”

Rishon Lezion Mayor Dov Zur said, “the Green Line should not disturb our merchants or our residents. I just hope we don’t find out that we should have built a metro instead of a light rail – but a light rail is preferable to buses. Still, the line we are pushing for the most is the Brown Line, which will cross Rishon.”

Budget concerns

“Contrary to reports in the media, the public transportation budget is expected to increase by billions of shekels in 2016,” announced the Ministry of Finance on Monday, after protests over reports that the ministry intended to cut subsidies to public transportation by NIS 220 million.

The ministry stressed: “In 2014, we invested some NIS 15 billion in developing infrastructure for and subsidizing public transportation, and in 2016 the budget of the Ministry of Transportation will rise by more than NIS 500 million to some NIS 15.5 billion.”

However, sources inform “Globes” that the Ministry of Finance has yet to inform NTA of the budget for the Green Line, with projected costs in the billions of shekels. “Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon is so busy with housing issues, but until there is a budget for the Green Line, until the NTA begins building additional lines, no one will want to move to live in those planned apartments,” said a senior source in the sector on Tuesday, “Access to public transportation is one of the most important criteria for those looking to buy an apartment.”

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – www.globes-online.com – on August 4, 2015

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015 The Ministry of Finance said in response that “this is not a short process, especially given the complexity of the project. Until a plan has been authorized, it cannot be implemented, and as such there is no reason to discuss the operational budget of the project. When it becomes relevant, the ministries of transportation and finance will work together to find the necessary funds.” Meanwhile, the national Planning & Building Committee approved the construction of several temporary “park & ride” lots under a special clause allowing an exemption from the usual bureaucracy. The extraordinary measure was taken after the committee became convinced of the temporary need during the period between the expansion of Route 1 and the construction of the light rail in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area.

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