Jan 11, 2012

Educating The People On The Jerusalem Light Rail

Yesterday I was in Jerusalem and took the Light Rail across town. I do not remember ever being able to get to downtown Jerusalem from the Central Bus Station as quickly as it went yesterday on the Light Rail. No traffic, no traffic lights. It seemed  like it took just a few minutes. Though I must say the train cars were pretty crowded, especially when I took the train back to the bus station during rush hour time.

Personally I did not use my smart card, as I did not feel it necessary to buy a slew of rides, even at the cheaper price, that would probably take me many months to use up, as I rarely have the need to use it. Instead I bought two single passes. So for me everything seemed pretty smooth.

Unfortunately for others, there was a serious amount of inspectors on the train at all times checking to ensure that people actually paid. They are really setting the tone now letting people know that they have to pay. I saw them hand out a number of fines. One friend who I saw who also got a fine told me that his smart card had not worked when he swiped it, and when the inspector checked the card he also saw that it had not worked. he gave this guy the fine anyway (I think it was 180 NIS) and told him that he could complain at the main office. They are giving out fines even when it is their system that is causing the problem! Not just when they catch someone who snuck on, but when their card or card reader does not work! I saw other people also complaining about something that did not work, but I don't know their stories or if they were just making excuses.

I can understand sending lots of inspectors out, and I ca understand them being harsh with giving out fines. It is a new system, and they need to "educate" the people. I do not think it is right that when it is their system that fails they should still be able to give out fines to the victims, even if they then advise them how to appeal it. Just like I think it is ok for them to be a bit harsh about dishing out fines, thy should also be understanding when it is their own fault.


  1. One of the crazy consequences of the ticket machine being actually on the platform is that as you can imagine, if there is a queue to buy tickets and the train approaches the platform, people abandon the queue and jump on the train.

  2. I took the train today and had no problems whatsoever. I saw quite a number of people who did not pay and got busted. The machines worked fine (for me and most others on the train), so my guess is that the card carrier was not careful enough to hold the card near the card reader or that his RavKav was empty.

    One of the best things of the RavKav is that you can fill it up with a credit card and no longer need to carry paper money or change.

  3. Fun story.
    It was my first time riding the train, I tried to use my rav kav (big mistake)

    Anyway, I bought a ticket, and got onto the train. Nobody infront of me used their rav kav, or thier tickets so I had no idea what to do. At the next stop, some inspectors came on, so I approached him with my Rav Kav, and my wife's. I said, how do I do this? He took my card, swiped it, and then gave both of us 186 shekel tickets! I showed him the receipt that we just bought tickets, and said thats a receipt not a ticket, and called over another person to help him write us two tickets.

    When I called the number to complain, the lady asked me if I got a bad ticket before I even had the chance to say my name or ask a question! She told me to send a fax and explain the situation. I'll find out soon enough how reasonable they are being.

    The time on my receipt for 6 shekels and the time on my ticket for 186 shekels are 10 minutes apart!

    1. Curious to know if your appeal was successful?

  4. I was in Croydon, in south London, yesterday, where they have an extensive tram (=light railway) system. Three inspectors boarded the tram and, in the space of the three minutes it took to travel from one stop to the next, they wrote up 22 violations between them.

    It was impossible to evade the inspectors because the Metropolitan Police were waiting in force at the next stop to arrest those who tried to evade and to escape from the inspectors.

    It seems that fare evasion is endemic in Croydon.

  5. It's so idiotic it could only happen in Israel.

    First they made everyone get rav kavs. Then, if you loaded a rav kav too early it now won't work on the train! All you need to do is go to the CBS and get your card updated. Gee thanks, I only stood in line for 30 minutes to get the card the first time now I need to shlep to the CBS again?

    Why are they issuing so many tickets? 1) because they have quotas or performance reviews. 2) they are all new hires and are idiots who can't get real jobs. 3) because they implemented the system so badly they expect that it won't work a good percentage of the time.

    They have so many inspectors that for less money they could just have implemented a boarding system where you que up in corrals with turnstiles.

  6. The entire system was not thought out, especially for the Israeli/Arab mentality. One "cool" kid told his friend that only a "fryer" would pay because the chances of getting caught are less than the number of times he can ride the train for free.

    As someone who rides the train at least a few times a week, here are my observations:

    1. The ticket machines do not always work. I tried 4 machines and 2 days before I managed to recharge my rav kav with my credit card. Luckilly I started a few days early.

    2. The ticket machines often don't have change, so someone paying cash either pays far in excess of the ticket or risks getting caught.

    3. See my earlier comment in this thread.

    4. The public (especially older people) often have no idea what they are doing. I have seen on several occasions, a person swipe their ticket on the train and instead of the green light, they get the red light. As the traveller is not looking, they have absolutely no idea that their ticket is not valid, and if it's pointed out to them, its too late once they are on a moving train.

  7. "It's so idiotic it could only happen in Israel. "

    And apparently london.

  8. Today I rode the Light Rail for the second time in my life (I live in Maale Adumim). I got fined because I didn't know that the paper tickets are only good on the day they're purchased. There's nothing written on the ticket indicating that they expire and I thought they were like regular tickets, so I used one a couple months after I'd bought it. The inspector looked at my ticket, asked to see my ID card "to check something," and then announced to the whole train, "You have broken the law. You will be fined!" in a loud, obnoxious voice, making no attempt to hide his satisfaction.

    Of course, by that time there was nothing I could do. I can't hand over my (valid!) Rav Kav to pay because I have *already* broken the law! On the train platforms there are posters with 2 columns of text, in Hebrew only. My husband went through the poster and found the fine print, that the paper tickets are good only the day they are purchased. So I will have to pay 180 NIS (for a 6.60 NIS ticket) because I made a mistake.

    The moral of the story is don't make a mistake on the Light Rail.

  9. I totally disagree with your perspective. The city of Jerusalem wants its citizens to use the light rail, then it must take responsibility to make sure that ticket machines work, card readers work, and that the inspectors learn the meaning of customer service. This is jerusalem, not the soviet union.

    Dear Mr. Nir Barkat, please act responsibly and instruct the city workers on how to do their jobs properly, including making sure that the ticket machines and card swipers are all working at least 90% of the time. If what is written in this article is true, then the city of Jerusalem is incompetent in its enforcement of the law, and is guilty of harassing the public.

  10. This is one of the reasons I never ended up making Aliya and moved away from Israel. Everything is a balagan. Nothing is simple. Everyone is after you and your few shekels. This would never happen here in the US. Would I rather be living in Israel? Of course but it's not worth the hassle, red tape and bureaucracy every time you try to do anything. Israel may be a great place but there is a lot that they would need to do for me to think about moving back.


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