Wednesday, January 22, 2014

By Bus or Train

Lior Regev

Transportation systems are central and essential factors in shaping the urban quality of life. An efficient system with an infrastructure suited to the volume of traffic within the city makes it possible for us to reach our desired destination at any time of the day. 

One of the key elements of Jerusalem’s transportation infrastructure is its public transportation system. Because of its importance, this is a salient issue within the public discourse. Simply place two complete strangers next to each other at a random bus stop, and within minutes – regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity, and socio-economic status – they will be regaling one another with tales of the feats and wonders of Jerusalem’s public transportation system. 

Today two companies provide regular public transportation within Jerusalem: Egged Cooperative and Citipass, which operates the light rail system. Egged operates some 68 separate public transportation routes (that is, without transfer points), which serve approximately 1,545 stations throughout the city. On an average weekday, these busses travel a cumulative total of 13,165 kilometers, and during an average week they cover 75,878 kilometers. During peak hours, between 7:00 and 8:00 in the morning, about 942 busses are on route throughout the city. 

East Jerusalem has not been left out of the public transportation system. In 2004 a number of companies united to form the East Jerusalem Transport Association. In 2010 the Association operated some 30 bus routes within East Jerusalem, reaching about 4,106 trips daily. Over the years the number of passengers has increased: in 2004 the total number of passengers per 24-hour day was 69,000, in 2006 the total was 85,000, and in 2010 a total of 94,750 passengers rode the Association’s busses. 

The Young and the Studious

Lior Regev

The higher education system is, to a large extent, a mandatory transit point for young people seeking to enter the modern workforce. “Tribal elders” claim that today, as opposed to when they were young, even someone who cleans for a living requires at least a master’s degree. The prevailing assumption is that most college students in Israel begin their studies during their twenties, after completing military service and returning from their post-army world trek, yet before starting a family and entering the workforce. 

A review of the ages of bachelor’s degree students in Jerusalem largely confirms this assumption. During 2011-2012, out of a total of 27,000 bachelor’s degree students in Jerusalem, about half (49%) belonged to the 20-24 year-old age group, and another third (33%) belonged to the 25-29 year-old age group. Only 6% of students had not yet reached age 20, the same percentage (6%) as those belonging to the 30-34 year-old age group, and only 7% were 35 years old or older.

During 2011-2012 the Hebrew University had a total of 11,440 bachelor’s degree students, of whom 90% were in their twenties. Only 5% of the students were below age 20, and an additional 5% were 30 years old or older (of whom 3% were in the 30-34 year-old age group).

Twenty to twenty nine year olds stand out as the salient age group among students across all of Jerusalem’s educational institutions. Slight variations in age were recorded at various institutions: Machon Lev (The Jerusalem College of Technology), most of whose students are orthodox or ultra-orthodox, had the youngest students of all. During 2011-2012, among 3,010 bachelor’s degree students, one-fifth (20%) were less than 20 years old, and roughly half (52%) were 20-24 years old. In all, 72% of the students were below age 25. The reason for this age distribution might be that some students have a shortened military service, while the women students might begin their studies during the time of their national service (a substitute for military service) or immediately upon completion. In contrast, the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design had the smallest percentage of younger students on record. During 2011-2012, only four students (0.2%) were below age 20, and another 38% were in the 20-24 year-old age group. A total of 62% were 25 years old or older.

The Lander Institute recorded the highest percentage of older students (aged 30 or more) during 2011-2012. Out of a total of 980 students, 18% belonged to the 30+ age group. This institute offers evening classes, an option that appeals to older students who combine work with studies. In contrast, the Hebrew University recorded the lowest number of older students, with only 5% of its students aged 30 or above. With the exception of the Hebrew University, Machon Lev again stands out as the youngest institutions, with only 6% of its students aged 30 or above. 

Someone to Run With

Yael Israeli

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional” – thus wrote author Haruki Murakami in his book What I Talk about When I Talk about Running. If this is so, then it seems that more and more people are opting for suffering – the number of races in the country rises each year, and every year the number of participants increases significantly. 

Last month the 10-kilometer Jerusalem Night Run took place. This is the second nighttime race in the city, the first one having taken place in 2011. A total of 2,168 runners participated, about 70% men (1,545 runners) and 30% women (623 runners). For the sake of comparison, the Tel Aviv Night Run that took place a few weeks previously had about 20,000 participants. Despite the huge discrepancy, it is important to keep in mind that metropolitan Tel Aviv has a much larger population than Jerusalem and that many population sectors in Jerusalem do not participate in sports events such as these. In fact, the number of participants in Jerusalem’s race was impressive and actually higher than anticipated.

About half of the runners in Jerusalem’s race were residents of the city: 1,026 runners, constituting 47% of participants. A total of 1,160 runners came from the Jerusalem District as a whole. Where did the other participants come from? The district which provided the greatest number of runners (after Jerusalem) was the Central District (411 runners), followed by the Judea and Samaria Area (260 runners), the Tel Aviv District (210 runners), Southern District (60 runners), Northern District (35 runners), and last but not least, Haifa District (32 runners). In terms of the number of participants, Tel Aviv was the second-largest city in size (after Jerusalem) – 124 runners – closely followed by Modi’in with 105 runners. Only 16 runners came from Haifa, the country’s third-largest city.

According to the 2010 Social Survey of the Central Bureau of Statistics, it seems that Tel Avivians engage in sports more than Jerusalemites do: the percentage of Tel Aviv and Haifa residents who reported that they engage in physical exercise was higher than the figure for Jerusalem (60% versus 50%). When asked about the number of times per week that they exercise, only 30% of Jerusalemites reported exercising three times per week, compared to about 35% in Tel Aviv and Haifa. 

Why do people choose to engage in physical exercise, despite the pain and suffering? In Jerusalem, the percentages of those who stated that physical exercise makes them feel good and of those who reported that it contributes to their health and prevents disease were the same (about 40%). In Tel Aviv, in contrast, a majority (50%) said that exercise makes them feel good and a smaller percentage (35%) stated that it contributes to their health. In Haifa the situation is reversed – most reported that they engage in physical activity because of its health benefits. In Jerusalem and Tel Aviv the same percentage of sports participants chose to engage in physical exercise because it helps with weight loss and maintenance (about 14%).

So why do people still opt out of physical exercise, despite its importance and great benefits? In Jerusalem about 50% cited lack of time as the main reason, compared with 35% in Tel Aviv and Haifa. The second main reason for not engaging in sports was health or physical problems: about 17% in Jerusalem, 23% in Tel Aviv, and 26% in Haifa reported that they do not engage in physical exercise for this reason. tiredness were the third reason (about 10% in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa). 

With the increased awareness surrounding the importance of physical activity and the rising number of sports events in the country, all that remains for you to do is grab some running shoes, a bicycle, or swimsuit and, like everyone else, get addicted to the adrenaline running through your veins.

Sources: Central Bureau of Statistics and website of the 2013 Jerusalem Night Run

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It’s All About the Location

Yael Israeli

Local elections and the representatives chosen in these elections have a tremendous influence on all of our lives, at times even more than the national elections to the Knesset. Voting patterns and elected parties often reflect various processes that are developing across the city and within its different neighborhoods. The most recent elections in Jerusalem were especially lively and tense, and certainly among the most talked about in Israel.

A total of 576,100 individuals in Jerusalem have the right to vote, out of a total of 815,300 residents. The overall rate of voter turnout in the city was 39%, lower than the national average (51%). This was slightly lower than the previous local elections, in 2008, when voter turnout reached 42%. But if we don’t take into account the Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, where voter turnout is especially low – only about 1%, then voter turnout for the city reached 56% this year. 

It is especially interesting to examine the voting patterns across various neighborhoods, which often indicate patterns of change within those areas. In the neighborhoods of Rehavia, Talbieh, East Talpiot, Gilo, Old Katamon, and the City Center, Jerusalem’s pluralistic parties (Hit’orerut, Yerushalmim, Yerushalaim Tatsliach, Meretz-Ha’Avoda, and Ometz Lev) received relatively strong voter support – between 60% and 70%. In Rehavia and the City Center, voter support for ultra-orthodox parties (Agudat Israel, Shas, and Bnei Torah) was relatively high – 15% and 26%, respectively. The neighborhoods with the highest rates of voter support for the pluralistic parties were Ein Kerem, Nayot, Malha, Beit HaKerem, the German Colony, and Baka’a – each had between 80% and 90% support for these parties. The ultra-orthodox parties received over 85% voter support in the neighborhoods of Ramat Shlomo, Sanhedria, Mekor Baruch, Romema, and Har Nof.

Let us now examine two neighborhoods that have been undergoing change in recent years. In Kiryat Yovel, ultra-orthodox parties received 24% of the vote, pluralistic parties received 58%, and HaBayit HaYehudi and Yerushalaim Meuchedet received 8%. The overall result was a 10% increase for ultra-orthodox parties as compared with the 2008 elections. In Kiryat Moshe, 29% of voters supported ultra-orthodox parties, 24% voted for pluralistic parties, 16% for HaBayit HaYehudi, and 25% for Yerushalaim Meuchedet – relatively comparable to the distribution in the 2008 elections. 

What neighborhood is each party most indebted to? In Old Katamon there was sweeping support for the Yerushalmim party – 2,491 votes – which received more votes than any other party within this neighborhood, accounting for 15% of all the votes it received. Yerushalaim Tatsliach and Hit’orerut received the largest number of votes in Gilo (3,600 and 2,500 votes, respectively), Agudat Yisrael and Shas in Ramot (8,600 and 5,700 votes respectively), Yerushalaim Meuchedet in Givat Shaul (1,100 votes), and Meretz-Ha’Avoda received the most votes in Beit HaKerem (1,500 votes). 

Finally, let’s not forget voter distribution for the mayoral election. Nir Barkat received his largest number of votes in Pisgat Ze’ev – a total of 11,000 votes – but this is not surprising given that it is one of the largest neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Likewise, Moshe Lion received his largest number of votes in Ramot (13,000), which is also one of the largest neighborhoods in the city. Barkat received his highest percentage of voter support in Nayot, at 95%, while Moshe Lion received his highest percentage in Ramat Shlomo, where 91% voted for him.