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...