This Blog Has Moved


New Address:

All posts are available in the new blog

Please do not post any comments here. Go to the new address to comment. Thank you.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Long Journey Home

A while ago, I quoted an article about the difference between trains in Israel and trains in Japan. This evening I had the misfortune of getting a taste of this difference. And what a bitter taste it turned out to be.

My wife drove me to work this morning as she needed the car. At the end of the day she called to propose to come and pick me up, but I declined and told her I'm going to check out the train for the first time. I knew that getting from the office to the train station and then from the train station to my home would be problematic (no convenient public transport), but I thought that once I would get on the train, things would roll nicely. After all, I had one stop to travel, change to another train, and then two stops. How bad could 3 stops possibly be?

How bad? Well, you judge. Here is what I went through:

17:55 Left office, walked to train station.

18:10 Arrived at train station, purchased ticket.

18:25 Train left train station.

18:30 Train arrived at next station, got off to change trains.

18:35 Standing on platform 3, waiting for next train (due in 10 minutes).

18:40 Announcement: "All northbound and southbound trains will be approximately 10 minutes late".

18:45 Announcement: "The train that was supposed to depart from platform 3 will depart from platform 1. Please change platforms". Had to rush to platform 1.

18:54 Train arrives and departs.

18:58 Train arrives at next station. One more station to go!

18:59 Announcement: "This train will be delayed in leaving the station due to congestion"

19:05 Train leaves station.

19:09 Train arrives at destination. Mission (almost) accomplished.

19:15 Wife picks me up in car from train station, we head home.

19:35 Arrived home (through rush-hour traffic).

In summary, total travel time door-to-door was 1.5 hours, of which 13 minutes were spent in a moving train. Even with the worst rush-hour traffic it never takes me more than 45-50 minutes to get home from work. Is it a wonder people, unless they have to, don't use public transportation in Israel?

And don't get me going about the state of the toilets on the train, the fact that all announcements are in Hebrew only (I guess Israel has given up on tourism), the absence of taxis and/or buses at both train stations, etc. etc. I guess I expect too much; after all, this is the middle east...


Anonymous said...

I have often used the trains and luckily have virtually no other cultural experience to compare Israeli trains with. Why didn't you just pay for a taxi and have a nap in the traffic jams?
Your post depresses me, as did the article you quoted. Japan sounds like nirvana, and we are stuck here in Israel where all anyone seems concerned with is themself, whether it is getting in and out of an elevator, or leading the country. Respect of others and honour are diminishing.
I wonder- is there anyway we can "clean-up" the country, and make it a better place for our kids? I would be so nice to get on a bus or train and not have to beg for someone to move his bag off the chair in order to sit down.

Sharvul said...

Anonymous, to answer your questions:

1. Yes, I could have taken a taxi but I wanted to try, just for once, the train experience. Never again.

2. There are many ways I can think of to "clean up" the country, but most of them are considered illegal, at least since ethnic cleansing became so unfashionable :-)

On a more serious note, yes, I believe there is a lot that can be done, but unfortunately I don't see the necessary leadership nor the will among most people to make things happen. As you correctly put it, most Israelis are concerned mostly with themselves. So much so, in fact, that it has become infectious.

Anonymous said...

Ethnic cleansing hadn't crossd my mind- but since you mentioned it I would start with....

But seriously- Ami Ayalon backed by Braverman sounds a good start. And teaching the importance of "please & thankyou" in kindergarten, I have akways maintained, teaches kids that they are not the centre of the universe.
Other tips I believe in :

Not being embarrassed to aknowledge paying taxes (I am a freelancer, believe me it is tough) according to the law.

Not cheating in exams ( I was always chicken to cheat anyway)

Not employing illegal workers ( though i can't preach on that- they built my house- although, we got caught and paid a fine- saving the face of our corrupt society)

Anonymous said...

TA to Jerusalem and back by train in 4 hours - Haaretz - Israel News