I ride the train from Tel Aviv to the north and back, pretty much, every day. There are no days when it is entirely comfortable. This is especially true during peak travel times, such as when people are going to and from work.
Yet, some days are much worse than others. Soldiers crowd the trains to the point that people are stuffed into the cars like sardines. This is made even worse by the legions of teens let loose upon society by cavalier parents during the summer school break. (However, that is a tirade for another day.)
In any case, with this type of overcrowding on the trains, people are literally standing with their bodies completely touching one another. You can have someone’s foul morning breath flowing directly into your nostrils (BAM! Face to face), someone’s breasts pushed up against your chest or back, someone’s body odor or perfume overwhelming your sense of smell.
The point is that there are entirely too many people shoved together in a much too intimate fashion. Tons of people sucking all the oxygen from the car.
It’s hot. It’s annoying. Tempers flare.
Oh, and before I forget, the situation is much the same on city bus lines. (Only there, you have drivers who are rude, careless, and who drive like maniacs.)
I am sure this is not an issue unique to Israel. I’ve read plenty of articles about the overcrowding and over taxing of public transportation in Great Britain, India, and elsewhere. (The USA seems to mostly have an issue with traffic jams in the larger urban areas.)
So what to do?
I have not had the opportunity to discuss this issue with anyone inside the Israel Ministry of Transport and Road Safety. Therefore, I don’t know exactly what plans are in place to alleviate the problem.
(Allow me to place an aside here: Tel Aviv only has a few major roads in or out. In the event of a disaster, these roadways would become choke points for hundreds of thousands of people trying to flee either north or south as the case happens to be. I have to wonder what emergency plans are in place to help prevent loss of life in such a situation.)
Now, knowing that there are major traffic issues, I’d like to point out to whomever reads this, that there are some innovative solutions that could be implemented. And no, I am NOT talking about carpooling as a student from India suggested. While that that could certainly help to a (very) small degree, it will do nothing for the terrible state of public transportation.
For that, there’s a few companies and solutions I’ll highlight below:
If you watched the video above, you may agree that this solution sounds pretty cool. There were plans to build a track in Tel Aviv. Not sure what happened to them. There were a flurry of press releases and then NADA.
As one of SkyTran’s competitor’s notes: “It was declared that the pilot project of SkyTran system would be created in Israel. According to assertions from developers, it had to appear in late 2015. It has not appeared so far. The latest information on the construction progress appeared in 2016, after the approval of money transfer to the town of Herzliya, where it was planned to build a commercial route.”
What happened there? What happened to the money, and what happened to these plans? I’ve lived in the Tel Aviv area for the past 9 years. SkyTran? 2015? Nope. 2016? Nope. It’s now the fall of 2018 and no hint of SkyTran implementing anything.
Too bad, cause it looks cool in the video, and it actually could help alleviate Tel Aviv’s congestion.
This next solution comes from a startup in the U.K. FlowX is working on a low-cost way of using data to free up roads.
Richard Cartwright, the founder of FlowX notes that, “We hear constantly from citizens and from traffic managers that congestion is awful and we want to do more about it. But cities don’t have the tools to do anything about it.”
The man is barely out of college, but he’s ambitious. “After graduating in June 2017, he entered a business plan competition held by the Singapore Management University and won $2,500 for a proposal that advocated the idea of extracting data from CCTV cameras to manage traffic.”
Now, for someone like me with libertarian sensibilities … the concept of Mr. Cartwright’s solution poses some political problems. Namely, what about data usage? Privacy?
If there were a way to ensure that data would not be used by government as a means of being the ALL SEEING EYE …
But hey, this solution comes from the U.K., which is home to London … also known as the “most surveilled city in the world.” I can say just hearing that makes my stomach feel queasy.
Founded by Anatoly Yunitskiy, the company is based in the British Virgin Islands. However, the company appears, as far as I can tell, to be a Russian startup. It’s connected to the SkyWay Capital and SkyWay Invest Group respectively. Both of these entities and their websites are completely in Russian.
With that said, immediately below is a concept video of their proposed solution:
SkyWay’s Website says the following: “We create a fundamentally new transport system, which is eco-friendly, safe, comfortable and significantly cheaper compared to all existing solutions.
Having passed a range of international expert evaluations, the innovative SkyWay string system has proved its validity. At present, our main aim is to create an operating model of SkyWay technology – EcoTechnoPark.
EcoTechnoPark will become a starting point to transfer SkyWay string transport from the category of a ‘theoretically developed project’ to the category of a ‘well-selling product.'”
Of course, there are other theoretical solutions, such as Tesla founder Elon Musk’s HyperLoop concept. And yet, this is still on the drawing board even in America.
With that said, it’s clear that there are innovative solutions being discussed all over the world. It amazes me that in Israel, the so-called “Startup Nation” there seems to be a shameful, distinct lack of transportation solutions.
Does anyone working in the Israel Ministry of Transport and Road Safety even explore disruptive technologies? Yisrael Katz? Hello?
And no, a high-speed train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, or a new light rail system in Tel Aviv (both projects that seem to literally and ineptly drag on and on …) simply do NOT count.
- “Home.” SkyTran, www.skytran.com/.
- “FlowX.” FlowX, flowx.tech/.
- Card, Jon. “Meet the Startup on a Mission to Eliminate Traffic Jams.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 27 Apr. 2018, www.theguardian.com/business-to-business/2018/apr/27/meet-the-startup-on-a-mission-to-eliminate-traffic-jams.
- “Official Site of SkyWay Group of Companies.” SkyWay, rsw-systems.com/.