Jerusalem Construction News recently revealed the municipality’s plan for the addition of the light rail on Emek Refaim as part of the future blue line. Since then, a vocal but small group of individuals have spoken out against the plan. Local shops and homes have become a platform for an anti-train campaign, with signs petitioning passersby to help prevent the addition of the line to the once-popular street.
It is not outside the realm of possibility that the vocal minority will have an impact on the municipality’s decision to go forward with its proposal and therefore it is incumbent upon those who are in favor of the project to make their voices heard. As a result, I have created a petition for all those in favor of the light rail on Emek Refaim and the positive effects it can have on the street. These include:
- A reinvigorated economy. It is no secret that Emek Refaim is slowly dying. Many long-standing businesses have closed and more continue to leave the street in favor of greener pastures. It is debatable as to why this is occurring, but the addition of the light rail will bring more people to the street and create improved walkability and openness. The Yafo model has proven this.
- A cleaner and greener experience. Emek Refaim is used as a main artery for commuter traffic, but it was never designed for this purpose. As a result, the street struggles to find its purpose. Is it a place for pedestrians and neighborhood shopping or is it a road for cars, trucks and other heavy polluters? The addition of the light rail will define the street by making it a streamlined pedestrian experience with an abundance of greenery and cleaner air.
- A safer environment. There is nothing more disconcerting than having to share a road with cars and busses barreling down at 50 kmh. Pedestrian safety is paramount, but often it feels as though the cars are favored on the street. The fact that the town recently renovated the asphalt on the road but left the cracking and obstructed sidewalks is proof of this.
- A future-ready reality. Perhaps the most compelling reason to implement the alternative public transit option is that cars are not the future. Citizens globally are being weaned off of cars and the question of when it happens is reliant solely on brave and unpopular decisions made today. Applying the old way of thinking to a future project is harmful. As the city grows, a car-reliant model will create worse congestion, parking issues, pollution and numerous other problems.
When considered rationally, the light rail is a good decision. It will greatly benefit the local businesses and residents of Emek Refaim, and its branching streets, in the long run.