Friday, February 25, 2011

On foot or by public transportation?

Dr. Maya Choshen

Public transportation services in Israel many times offer slow service with long travel times and grossly inaccurate timetable. Matters are only made worse for passengers needing to transfer between transportation systems. Not surprisingly, many Israelis prefer their private vehicles despite the higher costs, because of the ease and simplicity they offer. Another advantage of a private car is the freedom to travel on weekends and holidays, when many public transportation systems do not run. The increased reliance on private vehicles carries many economic and environmental costs, including air, soil and water pollution, loss of open spaces, road congestion and higher rates of road accidents, to name only a few.

At the end of 2009 there were 2,458,700 motor vehicles in Israel – 79% of them private. The motorization rate was 326 vehicles per 1000 persons. The motorization rate in Israel has risen over 20 years from 211 / 1000 (vehicles per persons) in 1990, to 288 / 1000 in 2000 to 326 / 1000 in 2009. Nevertheless, Israel’s motorization rate is still lower than in other developed countries.
At the end of 2009, there were 168,700 motor vehicles in Jerusalem – 77% of them private. The motorization rate was 218 vehicles per 1000 residents. A great degree of variance was found in the motorization rate across the different localities of metropolitan Jerusalem, where residents tend to commute daily for work, study and other purposes. Not surprisingly, these rates corresponded directly to the socio-economic status of the resident population of these localities. The lowest rates were found in the Ultra-Orthodox localities of Modi’in Illit (43 vehicles per 1000 residents) and Beitar Illit (53 vehicles per 1000). Higher motorization rates were found in Maale Adumim (281), Modi’in-Maccabim-Reut (301) and Mate Yehuda (333). Abu Gosh also had a higher motorization rate than Jerusalem – 228 / 1000 compared to 218 / 1000.