Data released by Waze over this week confirmed what every driver entering Tel Aviv during the morning rush hour knows – that the construction on the city’s subway line that began last August has made it much harder for them to get to their destinations on time. According to the report, the construction has extended the time needed to drive into central Tel Aviv by ten to twenty minutes since the fourth quarter of 2015, compared to the comparable time period during the two previous years.
To get to the Azrieli Center, in the center of the city, requires a 117-minute drive for commuters coming from Be’er Sheva; drivers from Ashdod spent 78 minutes on the road. If you are coming from Rosh Ha’ayin it will take you 62 minutes to get from your home to the site; from Modi’in 52 minutes, Ariel 80 minutes, and Haifa 104 minutes. All those times are significantly more than the time that was required before construction began on the subway.
Last month, responding to the numerous complaints of storekeepers in central Tel Aviv, the municipality set up a NIS 5 million fund to compensate them for losses due to the construction of the city’s subway. The money will go mostly to pay for municipal taxes (arnonah) for businesses that have lost many of their customers due to construction of the light rail. Currently, construction is centered on a portion of Yehuda Halevy Street in south Tel Aviv, as construction proceeds on one of the subway stations. Much of the street has been closed to traffic, with just a narrow passageway on a sidewalk allowing pedestrians to access the stores there – with most shops reporting as much as a 90 percent decline in customer traffic.
Construction is set to begin on other stations as well in the coming months, and the problem will be exacerbated in other areas of the city.