It’s finally running after 10 years of construction: the Jerusalem Light Rail I actually thought the messiah or peace would come first. The route winds from Har Herzl the military cemetery past the central bus station past the machane yehuda market down Jaffa Road past the Damascus Gate in the Eastern Part of the Old City then winds north with stops at French Hill, the Shufat Arab village and the only refugee camp under direct Israeli control before ending in the Jewish Jerusalem suburb of Pisgat Zeev.
Between the people watching,with soldiers,chassidim, arab women in head covering (often with jeans) among the riders, geography and scenery out the window you get a great insight into all the complications of Israel within about an hour.
True to Israel’s high tech reputation most riders pay through the “rav kav” card a plastic card with an embedded computer chip which is refillable to keep a balance. There is no conductor on the train so if you are purchasing individual tickets (almost a certainty since rav kav cards arent generally issued to short term tourists ) be sure to by a ticket before boarding. Although it does seem to be an honor system or there are only spot checks everyone seems to be compliant….which I admit was a surprise.
More high tech: when transferring to the bus to reach my final destination I used my rav card again ( it is used on buses as well) the drive told me it was a free transfer the card knew that i had just gotten off the light rail. As I entered the bus my iphone starting vibrating with emails, I looked up and saw a sign “wifi on this bus provided courtesy of Egged” I checked the news, financial markets and facebook on the trip back to my apartment. Wifi is also free on trains and many inter city buses.
The video is fun even though quite long