New Haifa ‘fast’ Bus System a Success, Even Though It’s Slow

The project is only averaging 17 kilometers per hour, but Israelis are flocking on board.

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A new Haifa 'fast bus.'
A new Haifa 'fast bus.'Credit: Roi Arad

Ten months after Haifa’s new bus system began operation, a promise to give the rapid-transit project priority at intersections hasn’t been kept, Haaretz has discovered. As a result, the buses aren’t achieving the speeds they’re capable of.

The system, known as the Metronit, currently achieves an average speed of only 17 kilometers per hour. But if the buses received priority at intersections, the average would probably increase to 25 kilometers.

The Transportation Ministry said the mechanism to give the Metronit priority at intersections would be completed “within a year.” But even if this promise is kept, this will still be almost two years after the BRT system entered service.

Moreover, the project’s master plan promised that the mechanism for priority at intersections would be part of a larger traffic-control system that would receive alerts on traffic-flow problems and ease the handling of emergencies. But the traffic-control system hasn’t yet been connected to intersections, so it receives information only from security cameras.

Despite all this, the Metronit has been a success overall, with some 120,000 people using it every day — 30 percent more passengers than expected. Two weeks ago, it even received the prestigious Green Globe certification for environmental sustainability.

The company Yefe Nof, which operates the Metronit, said it would continue shepherding the project toward completion in accordance with instructions from the Transportation Ministry. The ministry said it was currently working to give the Metronit priority at intersections, but “this is a complicated process that will take several months.”

The Metronit consists of extra-long buses that travel in special public transportation lanes. The system operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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