Work on Tel Aviv Light Rail Ahead of Schedule, Says Transportation Minister

First route – from Petah Tikva to Tel Aviv – set to launch before October 2021 deadline, says Yisrael Katz.

A light rail site in Tel Aviv, February 2016. Work is proceeding ahead of schedule.
Ofer Vaknin

Work on the Tel Aviv light rail system will be completed ahead of schedule, Transportation and Road Safety Minister Yisrael Katz said Tuesday.

The first of the planned routes – the Red Line from Petah Tikva to Bnei Brak, Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv – is set to go into operation before its October 2021 deadline, he added.

Speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv to mark one year since the beginning of work commenced, Katz said, “After a year, it can be seen that the decision was correct. Things are getting done and we are already prepared for the next phases. Right now, we are making significant efforts to bring forward the digging [of tunnels].”

Katz added that the predictions of major traffic jams due to construction work had not come true. He said he had directed NTA – the company managing the project – to facilitate the flow of traffic as much as possible when tunnel excavation begins next year.

The government has so far approved three lines in the Tel Aviv area. In addition to the Red Line, the Green Line will run from Rishon Letzion to Herzliya and Ramat Hahayal. The Purple Line, meanwhile, will connect Tel Aviv and Yehud to the east. The Green Line’s route was approved this week and now awaits cabinet backing.

Due to the meager demand for the parking lots on the outskirts of Tel Aviv from which commuters can catch a free shuttle to the center of town, Katz said the Transportation Ministry is considering reducing the service. However, he added, “We won’t take this step lightly.”

Katz spoke at length about a plan to mark dozens of kilometers of public transport lanes in the greater Tel Aviv area, and to permit towns to enforce the law prohibiting private vehicles from using these lanes.