Israel's Only Subway is a Mountain Climber

TheCityFix's Jonna McKone profiles one of the most interesting subways in the world — Haifa's Carmelit funicular — and the city's BRT system.

The Carmelit system opened in 1959 and has 6 stations along its 1.8-kilometer track that climbs Mount Carmel in Haifa, a coastal city in northern Israel. According to DesignBoom, "the system transports around 2,000 people along the track each day and is among the most unusual subway stations in the world."

The city has a bus rapid transit (BRT) system, called Metronit, in the works. Treehugger wrote about the plan back in 2008. Currently, as we wrote about before, intercity bus travel is one of the most popular ways of getting around Israel. Egged Ltd. is Israel's largest transit bus company and the second largest in the world after London Buses. It operates 945 lines, serving a million passengers daily. About 47 percent of Israeli bus passengers use the service, according to one source.

Despite Haifa's short tramway-like subway and efforts to improve the bus system, there are a ton of traffic problems in the city. The Israeli Finance Ministry says the country loses NIS 20 billion a year (that's about $5.5 billion) due to traffic. And Haifa accounts for 10 percent of these costs. Troubling news for Israel, a recent study found that the "use of public transportation by commuters to and from work declined by 20% between 1995 and 2008, while use of private cars increased by 15%." Israel faces a number of reasons for the increases in car ownership, including tax incentives for the purchase of vehicles, the lack of a national transportation plan and a decline in the number of commuter buses.

Thanks to Garrett Bradford

Full Story: In Haifa, a Strange Subway and a New BRT

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