Mapping Each Israeli Transit Operator’s Service Area

The organization of transit services in Israel can be a bit confounding to people who are not familiar with how everything comes together.  It used to be that Egged basically had a monopoly in every part of the country except Tel Aviv, where the Dan Bus Company had a monopoly of its own.  Both companies were overseen by the Ministry of Transportation, and they received significant subsidies from the Israeli government to support their operations.  During Benjamin Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister in the late 1990s, he proposed privatizing transit services and increasing competition by allowing other companies, including those that had not operated in Israel previously, to bid on tenders for specific services that would be put out by the Transportation Ministry.  Egged went on strike to protest this change and brought all of Israel to a halt, but the march towards privatization and increased competition had begun.  Today, the Transportation Ministry puts out tenders for companies to bid on.  The company with the best bid package for that tender wins the right to operate those routes for a set number of years, at which point a new tender is made available for bidding for the next contract duration.

As of this writing, there are 26 companies providing transportation services under the auspices of the Ministry of Transportation, including the Carmelit in Haifa, Citipass (which operates the Jerusalem Light Rail), Israel Railways, the Golan Regional Council (which operates the transit service in the Golan Heights) and seven bus operators in East Jerusalem.  In response to a query on a Facebook group that I am a part of, I used a recent GTFS data feed download, I mapped out the starting point for each transit route in the country, and color coded those points by operator.  You can see the results of that here: 

Operators in certain parts of the country have changed over time.  For example, Ashkelon intracity lines have been operated by Dan BaDarom since 2016, but before that they were operated by Egged Ta’avurah and before that by Egged itself.  The bus routes in Tiberias were operated by Connex (Veolia) until that company ceased operations within Israel, at which point those services were transferred to Afikim and are now operated by Superbus

As you play with the highlighter and filters on the map above, what patterns or trends do you see?  Feel free to post any observations and/or questions you have about the map above in the comments section on this post.

Oren’s Reading List: A Train Ride Back to the Old Israel

About one month ago, after many delays and some fanfare, Israel Railways inaugurated service on the new Tel Aviv-Jerusalem High Speed Rail line, the first time that Israel’s capital city is connected to the rest of the country by a train line that is actually competitive with driving.  However, for reasons that can only be explained as politicking, the line is open despite not being ready for full operations just yet.  Trains are operating every half hour on weekdays between Jerusalem and Ben Gurion Airport, at which point passengers must transfer to another train in order to continue the rest of the way to Tel Aviv.  The power substations along the line are temporary, and several trains have gotten stuck along the line with passengers on board when the temporary electrical system is extended beyond its capabilities.  The line does not operate evenings and weekends so crews can finish the line and bring it to full operational status, which will take longer than it would if the crews could work 24/6 instead of needing to clear the tracks for revenue service each weekday.  Eventually, the trip between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv will take 35 minutes and not require a change of trains.

One question I’ve often received over the past few years while this new line is being constructed is what does the future hold for the old Tel Aviv-Jerusalem train line?  This line was constructed by the Ottomans and opened in 1892, and despite the fact it takes well over 90 minutes to travel between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and carries few passengers, it has been in operation ever since the line was reopened following extensive repairs and the construction of a new terminal at Malha in Jerusalem in 2005.  While this train route may not be the fastest way to get between these cities, it is quite pretty, as the train winds its way through the hills.  However, the beautiful scenery along the route will not be enough to save the line; the segment between Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem is likely to be closed at some point in the future after the new high speed line is fully operational.

Last week in the New York Times, Matti Friedman wrote about why he prefers the old Ottoman era train route over the new high speed route.  You can read his piece here. And if you find yourself in Israel with enough time to take the scenic train route on your way to or from Jerusalem, do so.  You won’t have the chance for too much longer…

New Photos from Israel & Washington, DC Added

The summer travel season is well underway, and photos from my adventures in May and June are now available for your viewing pleasure here on Oren’s Transit Page.

Most of the new content can be found in the Israel section, where you will find new photos of the Jerusalem Light Rail, Egged buses in Jerusalem (including the Solaris Urbino 18 unit currently on trial), Egged Ta’avura buses in Jerusalem, Afikim buses in Jerusalem, Kavim buses in Jerusalem, and Superbus buses in both Jerusalem and Tiberias.  If you haven’t been to Israel lately, with the entry of the Golden Dragon and Yutong bus models from China and Solaris buses from Poland in to the Israeli market, there is quite a bit of diversity in Israeli operators’ fleets beyond the typical MAN and Mercedes-Benz buses that have dominated the scene for years.  You can also find photos of the exterior of the new Jerusalem High Speed Railway station (the interior of the much delayed station will be open to the public this fall if you believe the latest rumors).

In addition, new photos of various WMATA equipment types have been added as well.

Here is the complete list of pages with new photos in this update:

OTP Update: New section and lots of new photos!

After a tease on the Oren’s Transit Page Facebook page a few weeks ago, I have finally made it through my photo queue to add a slew of photos from all over the US to the website this morning.  Highlighting this update is the newest section of the website from Richmond, Virginia.  Richmond has a 175 unit bus fleet and is building a new bus rapid transit line and you can now see some of their current operations here on the website.  Richmond is also home to the Triple Crossing, the only known spot in North America where three Class I railroads cross each other at the same spot, and there is a photo on the Norfolk Southern page from that location.

If you wanted to travel by train from Richmond to other places featured on Oren’s Transit Page, Amtrak would be a great choice, and you can now see photos of the relatively recently restored Main Street Station in downtown Richmond on the Amtrak Stations page, as well as Amtrak’s Genesis P42 Locomotives serving the station.  New photos were also added to the Amtrak ACS-64 Locomotives and Acela Express pages.

Further along the Northeast Corridor, a number of Washington, DC area galleries got updates, too.  New photos of the DC Circulator, as well as WMATA’s now retired New Flyer C40LF buses were added to the respective galleries.  On the rail side of things in DC, there are new photos in the Rohr (1000 Series), Breda Rehab, and Kawasaki (7000 Series) galleries.  

Even further to the north, there are two new Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority bus photos in this update.  If you travel very far to the east, a single photo of an Israel Railways Bombardier trainset that was not included in the most recent update from Israel is now on the site.  

Despite my constantly telling myself there isn’t all that much in the photo queue, getting through it all always seems to take longer than I expect.  I have a number of interesting articles to profile on Oren’s Reading List, and also plan to share more commentary on some of my photos through the Viewfinder, including some of my favorite photos from this update.  In addition to adding new photos from a variety of sections, I also hope to have the New York section rebuilt sometime in the next 6 months.  But while you’re waiting on all the content to come, I do hope you enjoy the new content that was just added or revisiting the content that I’ve posted over the past 16+ years.  

 

OTP Updated with New Sections, New Photos!

Gillig Phantom 6031 on Bellefield Avenue at Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, November 27, 2015

Astute visitors to Oren’s Transit Page may have noticed that the July 2016 Bus Photo of the Month was from a city that had never been featured on this website before, nor had there been any announcement that a new section had been unveiled.  As is often the case, it took me a bit longer than I had hoped or planned, but I added a whole slew of new photos to Oren’s Transit Page last week and decided to feature one of the new photos as a photo of the month before the “public announcement” for the update.  Perhaps you discovered the new content via your own exploration, and perhaps not.  But either way, here is a fairly exhaustive (albeit not 100% complete) list of what got added in this update.

This update includes photos from two places I had never been before until recently.  The first new section is the Pittsburgh section.  I was in Pittsburgh for a few days in November of 2015 and while my transit riding was limited to a short jaunt on the light rail and a ride on the Duquesne Incline, I still got a decent number of photos of those modes and the local bus system’s colorful buses as well.  One of them was featured as the aforementioned Bus Photo of the Month for July.  I plan on using some upcoming “Viewfinder” features to share some of the stories behind the photos I took in the Steel City.

Orion VII 2010-06 on Paseo Gilberto Concepción De Gracia at the Covadonga Terminal, San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 21, 2016

The second new section isn’t just a new city but also marks the first time Oren’s Transit Page has photos from the Caribbean!  I was in Puerto Rico for a week in March and in addition to riding San Juan’s Tren Urbano, I also rode and got photos of the local bus system in San Juan, the Autoridad Metropolitana de Autobuses de Puerto Rico (AMA).

I spent about 48 hours in Amsterdam about a month ago, it was my first trip to the Netherlands since 2008.  Unlike my last trip, I didn’t travel to other cities in the country.  However, I still got plenty of photos of the various trams currently operating there, the new M5 Series cars on the Amsterdam Metro, and the city’s buses.  I also got some photos of Nederlandse Spoorwegen trains and the Thalys while on my way to and from the airport.

A number of pages within the Israel section are updated, with a handful of brand new additions in this part of the website, too.  You can find photos of the new MAN NL-323F and MAN NG-363F 5 door articulated buses in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  There are also new photos of Afikim, Metropoline and Kavim buses in the Tel Aviv area, and Egged intercity buses from throughout the country.  Of course, no update to the Israel section would be complete without an update to the Jerusalem Light Rail gallery, and a number of light rail photos from this update are also planned for upcoming Viewfinder features.  Last but certainly not least, there are also updates to the Israel Railways galleries.

Type 12G 819 on Damrak, Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 31, 2016

In an ongoing effort to make Oren’s Transit Page as accurate as possible, all references to WMATA’s New Flyer DE42LFA and DE62LFA buses have been updated to call these buses New Flyer DE40LFA and DE60LFA buses, respectively.  This is in order to have the captions on this site match the builder’s plates on board the buses. (It is acknowledged that other websites and internet sources refer to these buses by the former designations, and it is unlikely that the entire internet will coalesce around a single designation anytime soon.)  Additionally, some photos of MAN intracity buses in the Israel section that had been referred to as NL-313s have been corrected to be NL-323Fs for while the differences between these models are slight, they are different models and should be noted accordingly.

As I mentioned several times, I am planning to feature the stories behind a number of photos from this update in addition to older photos from throughout Oren’s Transit Page here on the Travelogue as part of the Viewfinder series.  In addition, I have several system reviews planned of cities I have been to recently.  Needless to say, you should be sure to check back for all that and more!  If you’re a fan of Oren’s Transit Page on Facebook, you’ll get site updates right in your news feed, so be sure to click “like” if that interests you!