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Civil Society an Engine for Sustainable Transportation in Jerusalem

A Round Table on Promoting Sustainable Transportation in Jerusalem Through Civil Society

2019 - Present
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Research Type: Policy Research

Jerusalem has about 885,000 residents. According to the 2017 CBS manpower survey, 79,300 people commute to the city, and it hosts an average of one million tourists a year and 80,000 a month. Recent years have seen large investments in the development of public transportation in the city, manifested among other things in the inauguration of the light train’s “red route”, in the planning and advancement of additional lines, in the inauguration of the intercity train, in enabling two-door boarding of buses, the creation of the “Rav-Kav” smartcard and the unification of its utilization system, in rewriting the tenders for the Jerusalem cluster of lines, and more.


That said, the field of public transportation in Israel is a market failure.

The decades-long low investment in public transportation has turned the work on closing the gap into a complex, major undertaking, evidenced by the Ministry of Transportation itself, which declared that “Israel lags significantly behind the developed countries regarding both infrastructure and policy, and what is being done is being done too late, too slow, and is too limited.”

The Ministry has also stated: “a developed and efficient public transportation system is a necessary component in the development of mobility and in the support of the social and economic development of Israel. Well-developed public transportation will provide mobility to the entire population, help shape the development of cities and metropolises in Israel and strengthen the connections between them, connect the cities to the periphery and metropolitan centers, and constitute a proper response to problems of accessibility, excessive air pollution, and safety” (from The development of public transportation: A strategic plan, the Ministry of Transportation, December 2012).

The last study on Quality of Life in Jerusalem found that two acute factors were impairing the urban quality of life of the city’s residents: cleanliness in the public space and public transportation.

Jerusalemites from all the city’s communities (East Jerusalem, ultra-orthodox, secular, senior citizens, etc.) reported a low frequency of bus arrivals, tardiness, and limited destinations. These groups also noted specific challenges by community, such as a lack of public transportation on the Sabbath, cumbersome functioning and operational failures of the East Jerusalem bus lines, difficulties in getting to work on the part of ultra-Orthodox women who do not drive, and more. The accessibility of convenient transportation lines was marked by all sectors as one of the three most significant factors in choosing an apartment.


The Jerusalem Model, operated by the Leichtag Foundation, is interested in realizing its ability to contribute to joint work by the city residents for the purpose of improving the urban quality of life. The model incorporates committed activists from all the city’s religions and communities and is able to create professional, long-term civil society activity. The product of this project will be a background paper for a round table on promoting sustainable transportation in Jerusalem through the civil society, with the final goal of consolidating avenues of civil society action for promoting sustainable transportation in Jerusalem.