One of the key characteristics of a major city is its force of attraction, or the number of non-residents who enter the city. We usually measure a city’s force of attraction by the number of employees who come into the city for work – the commuters who are characteristic of any metropolis. But people come into a major city for a variety of purposes, including studies, culture, “errands,” and more. As it turns out, working commuters appear not to be the majority of non-residents who come into Jerusalem. This conclusion emerges from an examination of the number of vehicles that enter the city.

During the years 2009-2010, a total of 69,000 of Jerusalem’s employees were non-residents; that is, they entered the city for the purpose of work. But traffic statistics reveal that the number of vehicles entering the city daily was much higher. In 2011 the number was 140,000 vehicles daily (Sunday through Thursday), and of course some of these vehicles contained more than one person. This number refers to all hours in a 24-hour period.

On regular weekdays, the road with the highest volume of traffic among Jerusalem’s entryways is Highway 1 from the direction of Mevasseret Zion, by which 59,000 vehicles enter the city. Additional roads by which large numbers of vehicles enter are Highway 1 from the direction of Ma’ale Adummim (24,000), Highway 404 (extension of Highway 443) from the north (18,000), and Highway 60 from the direction of Gush Etzion (13,000).

It is important to note that some of the vehicles entering the city constitute “through traffic,” meaning that they continue to a different destination. But we may presume that in Jerusalem (as opposed to Tel Aviv, for example) this is a small portion of the traffic.

Another question that might be explored through traffic statistics is the volume of commuters to Jerusalem compared to commuters from Jerusalem. For these purposes, we will examine the stretch of Highway 1 between Shoresh and Sha’ar Hagai. The statistics reveal that during morning hours (7am – 10am) the number of vehicles traveling towards Jerusalem is higher than the number traveling towards the plains region (between the Judean hills and the seashore) by 260-650 vehicles/hour. For example, at 9am, on average 2,660 vehicles/hour travel towards Jerusalem, while 2,010 travel towards the plains. In the afternoon (between 1pm and 5pm), the number of travelers towards the plains region is higher than the number of those traveling towards Jerusalem by 250-600 vehicles/hour. For example, at 3pm, an average of 2,930 vehicles travel towards the plains, compared to 2,340 vehicles traveling towards Jerusalem during that hour. Thus it turns out that during the typical hours for commuting to work, there is more traffic towards Jerusalem than the opposite way, whereas the situation is reversed during the typical hours for commuting from work.

Source of data: Traffic statistics for non-municipal roads, the Central Bureau of Statistics
The 2012 Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem, Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies