Vox Tablet

Taken for a Ride in Jerusalem

Jerusalem’s light-rail system was designed in part to force Arabs and Jews to interact. Now that it’s running, commuters share one thing: discontent.

April 23, 2012
A ride on the central line of Jerusalem's new light-rail system.(Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

A ride on the central line of Jerusalem’s new light-rail system.(Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)

Jerusalem is not known for its high-functioning infrastructure. With a rapidly growing population squeezed between sacred sites, and as ground zero for an intractable territorial conflict, it’s pretty much an urban planner’s worst nightmare. To wit: Jerusalem’s plan to build a light-rail system to ease congestion and unify the city. In addition to facing a host of logistical obstacles, the proposal prompted considerable opposition because the trains would cross borders that many people have fought hard to define and defend, separating East Jerusalem from West, Arab from Jew. After nearly a decade of construction, at a cost of over a billion dollars, the system finally opened several months ago. But if there’s one thing that unites these commuting Jerusalemites, it’s their frustration with the train’s deficiencies. Daniel Estrin filed this report. [Running time: 15:02.]

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