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Monday, 29 August 2011

Gasoline Prices to rise in Israel on Thursday

Gasoline prices are due to rise in Israel this Thursday at the beginning of September, because of a 20 agurot a litre increase in gasoline tax.  This rise was delayed a month from August as a result of the social demonstrations in Israel.  The Government says this tax rise is needed to cover the costs of its projects.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Investigation into the cost of cars in Israel and Taxi Drivers Protest against fuel costs in Israel

Investigation into the cost of cars in Israel

Israel's Transport Minister Israel Katz, has announced a new committee to examine the level of competition in the car industry.  As part of the Israeli Government's attempt to show it is listening to the social demonstrations against the high cost of living in Israel, the Transport Minister has said that the committee will look at the cost of purchasing a car in Israel, as well as the cost of spare parts, leasing cars and whether warranties are honored by car dealerships.  The commitee will be chaired by Yaron Zelekha.

Taxi Drivers Protest against fuel costs

Taxi drivers last week joined the demonstrations on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv to protest against high petrol costs, caused by the high taxes.

Although the Government has reduced the price of fuel in Israel, the level of tax on fuel was not reduced, from the 40% level it currently is, which differentially affects professional drivers.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Jerusalem Light Rail started on Friday with 40,000 passengers

Friday saw the start of passenger services on the Jerusalem Light Rail, which has taken more than a decade to complete the first line at a cost of more than 4 billion Shekels.

On the first day of service 40,000 people used the service, with an expected 100,000 passengers a day on weekdays.

The train rides are being offered free of charge for the first few weeks of operation but will than cost 6.40  a ride, the same as a bus journey in Jerusalem.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

New Egged Bus Route between Petach Tikva and Herzliyah

Egged has this month launched a new bus route the 553 bus between Petach Tikva Central Station and Herzliya Arena Mall Station via the Geha Intersection and the Herzliya Industrial Zone.  The fare will be 10 shekels with the overall journey time expected to be 1 hour

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Jerusalem Light Rail start date confirmed for this Friday 19 August and it will be free!

Following the concern earlier this week over a last minute delay requested by the Transport Ministry it has been confirmed that the Jerusalem Light Rail in Israel will start taking passengers this Friday morning.  The first trams will roll out at 5:30am and run every 10 to 15 minutes.  A map of the route can be viewed here.

In a surprise announcement CityPass announced that following an agreement with the Transport Ministry, passengers will be able to travel on the light rail for free for the first few months, the Jerusalem Post has reported.

Once charging on the light rail begins passengers will be able to use their Rav-Kav cards on both buses and the trams in Jerusalem, with one price for travel on all vehicles within 1 hour and 15 minutes of first boarding a public transport vehicle.

UPDATE 18/8/11- The Jerusalem Municipality has today confirmed this story, with the following announcement.

"The Jerusalem Municipality is happy to announce that this Friday, 19/08/11, The Light Rail will operate to the city's residents and to take on passengers. Starting from Friday, 14 trains will run along the 23 stations, Mount Herzl, through downtown to Givat Zeev. It is also important to emphasize at this stage of the pilot period, municipal bus lines will continue to run as usual.
For the first two weeks of train operations, it was decided that the trip will be free for the welfare and comfort of all residents.

Each train consists of two cars, that can accommodate 450 seated and standing passengers. The train will operate every weekday from 5:30 am to midnight, and Friday 5:30 to 15:00.

Run parallel to the start  of the railway is the continuing the process of approval of the smart traffic lights throughout the city, designed to give priority to train at intersections, and thereby shorten the travel time even more. At the end of the run, with full commercial operation of the train, travel time is expected to end on 42 minutes.

Mayor Nir Barkat, said that''this is a happy day for Jerusalem and its residents. Despite the difficulties of the birth, the transportation system in Jerusalem in the coming months will gradually become a leader in progressive and welfare of residents and visitors.''

Monday, 15 August 2011

Jerusalem Light Rail - Could there be a further delay?

Following the announcement by CityPass that the Jerusalem Light Rail will begin this Friday, it is possible that the start of passenger services could be further delayed.

This follows yesterday's session by the Knesset Economics Committee which delayed the implementation of a law that regulates light rail systems.  It was expected that this law would have to be implemented before the light rail could start taking passengers.  This delay was at the request of the Transportation Ministry to allow for a further month of testing to the ticketing mechanism. 

In addition the light rail is still missing a major safety permit called the Independent Safety Assessment, which is awarded by an international body. The train cannot carry passengers without the permit.

However, CityPass have denied that the delayed law would have any affect on operations.

How to get your Rav-Kav Smart Card for the Jerusalem Light Rail and buses

Egged have started accepting the Rav-Kav card in Jerusalem as well as in the Gush Dan, Karmiel, the Sharon Region, Rehovot and the north.

The Rav-Kav card is an electronic smart ticket which allows passengers to pay for tickets in advance and to use different routes.  The Rav-Kav card which passengers need to register for is intended also to be used on the Jerusalem Light Rail and Egged buses will allow passengers to either pay for season tickets or pay for a number of rides in advance and to recharge the card before they travel.

An application form for the Rav-Kav card can be found here and costs 10 shekels in addition to the cost of further tickets and can be purchased from:

JerusalemSun - Thu 07:00- 19:00 | Fri 07:00 - 13:00
Jerusalem CBS (opposite to platform No.22) Sun - Thu 07:00- 20:00 | Fri 07:00 - 14:00
Sun - Thu 14:00- 21:00 | Fri 09:00 - 14:00
Sun - Thu 12:00- 21:00 | Fri 08:00 - 13:00
Sun - Thu 12:00- 21:00 | Fri 09:00 - 13:00
Combined with City-Pass 

Neve Ya'akov Sun - Thu 11:00- 19:00 | Fri 07:00 - 13:00

Ma'ale Adumim Mall Sun - Thu 12:00- 20:00 | Fri 09:00 - 14:00

Giv'at Ze'ev Sun - Thu 12:00- 20:00 | Fri 09:00 - 13:00

Sha'arei Tsedek Hospital Sun - Thu 08:00- 16:00

Emek Refa'im /Rachel Imeinu Sun - Thu 10:00- 17:00 | Fri 09:00 - 14:00

Gilo - the Community Center Sun - Thu 12:00- 20:00

Talpiyot - opposite to the mall Sun - Thu 09:00- 17:00

South & Center
Tel Aviv CBS - Ticket Office (6th floor) Sun - Thu 07:00- 19:00 | Fri 07:00 - 13:00
Kfar Saba CBS - Ticket Office Sun - Thu 07:00- 19:00 | Fri 07:00 - 13:00
Herzliya CBS Sun - Thu 07:00- 19:00 | Fri 07:00 - 13:00
Sun - Thu 07:00- 19:00 | Fri 07:00 - 13:00
Holon,  Dar Gat Mall Sun - Thu 07:00- 19:00 | Fri 07:00 - 13:00
Sun - Thu 07:00- 19:00 | Fri 07:00 - 13:00
Sun - Thu 07:00- 19:00 | Fri 07:00 - 13:00
Rehovot CBS Sun - Thu 07:00- 19:00 | Fri 07:00 - 13:00

Haifa & SouthSun - Thu 07:00- 19:00 | Fri 07:00 - 13:00
Haifa Merkazit Hof ha-Karmel Sun - Thu 07:00- 19:00 | Fri 07:00 - 13:00
Haifa Merkazit ha-Mifratz Sun - Thu 07:00- 19:00 | Fri 07:00 - 13:00
Karmi'el Terminal Sun - Thu 07:00- 19:00 | Fri 07:00 - 13:00
Kiryat Hayim - "Ha-Tzrif" Junction Sun - Thu 07:00- 19:00 | Fri 07:00 - 13:00

Is it worth getting a Better Place electric car? Concern over Tel-Aviv Jerusalem Highway Upgrade, Easy Jet decides not to increase flight numbers to Israel

Is it worth getting a Better Place electric car?

Following the news that Better Place have opened their first showroom in Israel, Globes have carried out a review to consider whether it is worthwhile for employees to use an electric Better Place lease-car or a regular lease car.  In what could be bad news for Better Place, Globes conclude that there are currently no financial advantages to companies leasing the new electric cars, this is especially so given the current limited places to recharge the batteries of the engine.

Concern over Tel-Aviv Jerusalem Highway Upgrade

Residents along route Route 1 between Latrun and Jerusalem are concerned about plans by the Israel National Roads Company to upgrade Route 1.

In April Israel's Internal Affairs Cabinet Committee approved the 2.5 billion Shekel proposal which will see Highway 1 extended to 3 lanes each-way between Shaar Hagai and Jerusalem.  The road widening will also see new tunnels and bridges to make the drive straighter, smoother and quicker. 

During the consultation period on the proposal 800 objections to the plan were submitted, 115 of them against specific clauses of it. All of these objections have been rejected and following a complaint the Knesset State Control Committee convened two weeks ago to discuss whether the plan ought to be reconsidered. After the meeting, committee chairman MK Yoel Hasson told the parties that unless they resolved their dispute within 30 days, he would ask the state comptroller to look into it.

This has seen a meeting between local representatives and the National Roads Company.

The concerns include the huge disturbance by the construction of the new road, the uprooting of thousands of trees and natural habitats, the burial of the historic road to Jerusalem - which will see the armored vehicles that mark the breakthrough to Jerusalem in the War of Independence to be moved elsewhere and increased levels of traffic.

Easy Jet decides not to increase flight numbers to Israel

Easy Jet has decided not to increase its number of flights between Ben Gurion Airport in Israel and Luton Airport near London, Basel Airport and Geneva Airport.  Haaretz is reporting that this is because Easy Jet have not received the preferential treatment which they requested from Israel's Airport Authorities.

This comes as Ben Guiron Airport has experienced a 15% increase in travellers this summer, with a 9% increase so far in 2011 compared to 2010.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Jerusalem Light Rail to start this Friday

Jerusalem's light rail is to start this coming Friday, 19 August CityPass have announced, subject to final approval by the Independent Safety Assessment

CityPass will deploy hundreds of workers during the first few weeks of the train’s operation in order to explain the automatic ticketing system and answer passenger questions.

CityPass would have liked a further delay of a month to update the traffic lights along the route to give preference to the tram.  At present only  20 of the 100 traffic lights along the train’s route have been updated.  This means that at peak travel times, the train will also suffer from traffic jams, and it could take up to three times as long for a train to complete the route from Pisgat Ze’ev to Mount Herzl as it would on the regular route when the traffic lights are updated. It is estimated it would take two or three months for the company to update the remainder of the traffic lights.

A major overhaul of the bus lines, which would change more than 50 routes, was planned to be rolled out simultaneously with the light rail but was pushed off until the traffic lights are updated and the train runs on a normal schedule.

When the traffic lights are updated, trains will depart every five minutes. For the first few months, trains will depart every 10 to 15 minutes.

First electric car showroom opened in Israel in Israel, Israel Railways Safety Plan agreed, and an Extra Flight to Eilat

First electric car showroom opened in Israel

Better Place the electric-car infrastructure company Better Place has unveiled its first showroom at the Gilot Junction in Israel, in preparation for the sale of electric cars to retail customers.  Three models of the 
Renault Fluence ZE will be available which are fitted with Better Place's battery and electric engine instead of a conventional fuel tank and internal combustion engine. 
The Renault Fluence Expression will cost 123,000 Shekels and the upgraded Dynamic model will cost 130,000.  The cars are able to travel 185 km between charges.

Photo by: Ofer Vaknin
Better Place has also last week signed an agreement with Israeli car leasing company Albar Ltd. to market the Renault Fluence ZE electric cars to its leasing customers in 2012.

Israel Railways Safety Plan agreed

An agreement was reached on Thursday night between Israel's Transport Ministry, Israel Railways and the Transport Workers committee to implement Transport Ministry's rail safety plan, the Jerusalem Post has  reported.   The agreement follows Israel Katz's statement in June that if the plan is not agreed by this week he would have shut down the railways in Israel, following a number of accidents this year.

The main points of the rail safety plan are:
- increased supervision and enforcement of railway operations,
- tighter hiring terms for new employees (such as requiring train drivers to undergo thorough training and tests), and;
- regular testing of rolling stock.

Extra Flight to Eilat

The Transport Minister Israel Katz has given permission to El Al to add one extra daily flight between Ben Gurion Airport and Eilat.  El Al currently operates three daily flights between Ben Gurion Airport and Eilat.
This will see the number of seats on El Al increase on its Eilat route to 580 per day, from the current 430 seats, on four daily flights.