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Since 2011, the controversial Jerusalem Light Rail system has been a driving force behind the renewal and reintegration of some areas of the old city. In addition, the scheduled Jerusalem Business District is being planned to pave the way for the city’s future economic health.
The Jerusalem stand at the Smart City World Congress last month brought to my attention this interesting reality about the ancient city: the light rail’s impact.
Inaugurated in August 2011, the first light rail line in Israel has been a source of contention right from the start — financial, physical, and political. The budget for the project climbed dramatically from an initial estimate of €120 million to a final cost of around €925 million. The construction caused major disruptions in the city’s traffic flow and generated elevated levels of air and sound pollution that were vocally criticized by residents. And a 2009 report by the United Nations Human Rights Council described the new infrastructure as serving disputed settlements.
Fast forward to 2015 and the light rail moves around 140,000 passengers a day and has since become the heart of Jerusalem’s transportation network, connecting Muslim, Ultra-Orthodox and Israeli communities. […]