The Transportation and Finance Ministries presented plans Sunday for five new light rail lines and 27 kilometers of tracks, set to cover Jerusalem by 2024.
By the time the network expansion is complete, half of Jerusalem's population will live within a five minute walk of a train station. The system will carry over 400,000 passengers a day and waiting times will be improved to about five minutes between trains.
The Jerusalem Transportation Management Team is in the process of putting together Project JNET, the Jerusalem Mass Transportation Plan which will involve building "park & ride" parking lots near some central stations, rearranging traffic patterns—including grade separation at busy intersections—and finding a new operator for the network.
The current tender is held by Citypass, but they are to be replaced by one of the eight companies that have submitted bids.
This year, infrastructure work is expected to begin in the French Hill neighborhood, Mount Scopus, Giv'at Mordechai, Pat Junction and at the Hadassah Ein Karem Medical Center. Work at Pat Junction, near the Begin Highway, is imminent.
Five lines will serve Jerusalem residents: from the south Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo to the Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University, from the sports complex at Malha to Mount Scopus, from the western neighborhood of Har Nof to Jerusalem's northernmost neighborhood, Neve Yaakov; and from Hadassah Medical Center to the Central Bus Station.
The relevant ministries decided to begin operating the lines incrementally and not wait until all the work is finished in 2024. At first, a line will run from the north of the city, Neve Ya'akov, to Hadassah Hospital in the southwest, in addition to the current red line.
Infrastructure work has already begun for that line and track-laying should take place in November of 2020. Train cars should arrive in 2022 and the line should be operational by October of that year.
The next stage involves a line from the Central Bus Station to the Malha sports complex. Work will begin in April of 2018 and the line will begin operating in March of 2024. At a later stage, the line will be extended to serve passengers from Mount Scopus.
The third stage involves a line from Mount Scopus to the Gilo neighborhood. Work will begin in the coming month and it is expected to be operating in 2024.
The transit plan also aims to increase efficiency by shortening distances at the stations by improving pedestrian infrastructure and building escalators.
Eight conglomerates have submitted bids to the tender to operate the light rail system. Each includes an operator and maintainer, a company to build the train cars, a company that will lay the tracks and communications and funding entities.
They must submit their bids by the end of 2018 and the winner will be announced in April, 2019.