Yesterday, I left work at 7 p.m., as usual. I walked about 2 city blocks, to the bus stop before the one closest to where I work, as that stop is a total nightmare. It's next to the open-air market known as Machaneh Yehuda, and between little old ladies wielding lethal canes and umbrellas and battles between those with shopping carts and baby carriages that make the chariot race in Ben Hur look like kindergarten, getting on the bus and getting a seat is completely impossible. During my "stroll", picking my way over piles of building materials (the sidewalks as well as the street having been torn up for the accursed light railway project), I did not encounter any #18 bus so I can say authoritatively that it was fully 50 minutes at least between buses. For those who don't know, # 18 is not one of those lines running on some obscure peripheral route: it is one of the major lines going from one side of Jerusalem to the other, through the center of town. 23 other buses passed (I counted) while I waited, most of them the double, articulated variety, and most of them only half full. At 7:50 my bus, a single one, arrived, packed to the gills. By dint of shameless appeals, I managed to dislodge a teenager, plugged into both his cellphone and his iPod, and take his seat. I got home at 8:45.
I live in a neighborhood which, if not exactly in city center, isn't on the outskirts either. Remember that by American standards, Jerusalem is a small town (about 700,000 inhabitants). It would have taken me less time to travel to Tel Aviv (about 45 minutes).
Today this appeared in Haaretz. It now takes me nearly as much time to get to and from work as I am actually AT work, and the state of downtown Jerusalem is indescribable. It used to take me half an hour to get from my house to work; now it is usually between an hour to an hour and a half, sometimes more. The first light rail line was supposed to be operational in 2006, and now it is scheduled -- or was scheduled -- for the autumn of 2010. And I will probably never even ride it, as its route is not one I ever travel. I despair.
|Your Brain is Green|