Jerusalem Light Rail May Have Segregated Men-only / Women-only Cars

CEO of company developing light rail project supports providing 'kosher' cars for city's ultra-Orthodox population.

CityPass CEO Yair Naveh said Monday that he supports segregated men only and women only cars on the Jerusalem light rail train, which reporters and officials were invited to ride in a celebratory ceremony on Monday.

Jerusalem light rail Emil Salman July 30, 2010
Emil Salman

The train, being built by CityPass, is not yet operational, and is slated for launch in April 2011.

"The train was built to serve everyone," Naveh said, in response to a question on segregated cars. "I think it is required to create alternatives for everyone, and that option exists because of the train's division into cars. It is not a problem to declare every third or fourth car a mehadrin (kosher) car."

The mehadrin cars would serve Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox population, who refrain from mixing genders.

Rachel Azariya, a member of the Jerusalem city council and one of the opponents of the existing 'mehadrin' bus lines in Jerusalem (on which men sit in the front of the bus and women sit only in the back), criticized Naveh's declaration, saying that "Naveh is apparently unaware of the high court ruling forbidding further segregation."

"Naveh was appointed to run a project – that doesn’t mean that he can tell people where to sit and where not to sit, nor does it mean that he knows anything about values and democracy," Azariya said.

The ceremonial ride was attended by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz. Work on the light rail began eight years ago, and has since suffered endless delays and caused countless inconveniences to the residents of Jerusalem, and has become almost synonymous with management failure. The officials at the helm of the project now wish to display a positive facade to the residents of the city.

"Fortunately, we can confidently say today that things are under control, there is a positive atmosphere and positive momentum," Barkat said during the ceremony. "There are still hurdles, but we're on the right path."

Katz added that "I have been called to calm down MKs, ministers and even prime ministers who live in Jerusalem more than once, and I have been asked about the project endlessly. We can now see the beginning of the end, or at least the end of the beginning."

Naveh said that "the train will promote growth in Jerusalem. We're moving ahead with trials on the tracks… Residents of the city will be able to enjoy the train by next spring."