1. Transportation in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area – Building the Future
The Tel Aviv metropolitan area, which extends from Netanya in the north to Ashdod in the south, consists of 31 cities, 22 local councils and 12 regional councils. The Tel Aviv metropolitan area boasts a population of about 3,350,000 residents (44% of the entire population of Israel). 47% of the Israeli labor force, or approximately 1 million people, are employed in Tel Aviv.
The main routes to and within the country's center have become clogged with vehicular traffic in recent years, causing considerable loss of time and lost work hours, which in turn costs the country millions of shekels annually.
Israel's population is expected to increase by one million people over the next years, and 523,000 new jobs are expected to be created in the greater Tel Aviv area.
By 2030, the Tel Aviv metropolitan area will house 41% of Israel's population and will account for 49% of the country's workplaces.
NTA was established in order to find a solution to the growing problem of traffic congestion. The company is engaged in the design and construction of Light Rail Transit (LRT) routes as well as the introduction of high capacity buses on key routes in the region. The LRT is an electric powered transit system with a dedicated route unaffected by traffic congestion or blocked roads. A 75-meter LRT vehicle (two traincars running as a single set) has a capacity of 500 passengers, enabling it to reduce road congestion and make a significant contribution to the quality of life in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.
NTA plans to establish eight LRT lines with a total combined length of 215 kilometers. Approximately 1.4 million passengers are expected to board the LRT daily by 2030, 180,000 of whom will board during the morning peak hours.
Each LRT line has a designated color. The Red Line will be the first to commence operations and is expected to be up and running by 2021. The line will go through 5 cities - Petach Tikvah, Bnei Brak, Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv and Bat Yam. It will be 24 kilometers long, of which 11 kilometers will run underground. In addition, the LRT lines and stations, both underground and above ground, will be equipped with advanced control and maintenance centers.
From the moment it enters service the mass transit system (MTS) will lead to significant improvements in quality of life and accessibility for residents and visitors to the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.
NTA's newly designed system will be integrated with the extensive infrastructure planned for cyclists and pedestrians. This will increase the share of public transportation in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area by 40%, from the modest 20-28% of total rush hour transportation share it has today. Time spent by private vehicles on the roads will be reduced by 12% and the total time spent on the road will be reduced by 9% (from 4,350,000 hours daily, to just 4,000,000). The Light Rail is expected to reduce average travel time in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area from 35 to 28 minutes daily, a drop of approximately 8%. Likewise, the total distance traveled by private vehicles is expected to drop by 4.2 million kilometers by 2040, from 82,500,000km to 78,300,000km. More so, the number of fatal collisions will be greatly reduced and the air quality will be significantly improved.
Sustainable Development Strategy in NTA
The State of Israel has given NTA the task of constructing a mass transit system in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Upon completion, the system will comprise 8 lines with a total length of over 200 kilometers, extending from Netanya in the north to Rehovot in the south. The reduction in the use of private vehicles and the replacement of noisy, polluting buses with an electric-powered tram and high capacity buses will make a significant contribution to the environment of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and lead to a significant improvement in quality of life for its residents. This system is expected to change transit habits and enable sustainable urban development, in accordance with the NTA's plans.
The company's large-scale operations and ties with the overall economy afford it considerable influence as a leader in change on a national scale. With this comes the weight of responsibility - as a catalyst for change NTA must also act responsibly in its conduct and in its management of environmental and social risks.
NTA is committed to the implementation of a sustainable development strategy for the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. This strategy is based on careful planning, the establishment of modern social infrastructure, utilization of cutting-edge technology and a systematic approach to sustainable development, with an emphasis on:
1. Change and Innovation:
Improvement of the transit system and quality of life in the Tel Aviv area requires that urban areas undergo far-reaching changes. NTA encourages change and innovation in the development of sustainable transport on a day to day basis. NTA examines and assesses the needs of the population and plans innovative solutions inspired by the world's best practice initiatives and the latest technological advancements.
2. Expertise and Professionalism:
NTA's management and employees bring a professional approach to sustainable growth, based on knowledge as well as international field experience. This includes utilization of advanced information systems, adoption and implementation of proven means to increase sustainability and a systematic vision of all levels of the company's present and future operations. NTA attaches great importance to the pursuit of professionalism and the advancement of professional knowledge among its employees, striving continuously to offer them advanced training opportunities in their chosen fields.
3. Responsibility, Cooperation and Transparency:
NTA is working to create a healthy, equitable and sustainable urban environment and to improve the quality of life for all residents of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. This approach is based on receptiveness to the needs of the entire population, credibility, fairness and transparency as well as on a connection to the communities in which we operate during all phases of the project – including the planning, construction and operation phases. We encourage and develop relationships with civil organizations and local communities so that their views and needs are understood, reviewed and included in society's decision making process.
4. Creating shared values:
Residents of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area will benefit from the significant positive factors the innovative transit system will generate: the reduction in working hours due to increased accessibility, the realization of business opportunities along the route, the improvement of the urban fabric and the public space, the appreciation of real estate values in close proximity to the routes and stations, and the renovation and rehabilitation of streets across the urban landscape. Management of the project will be implemented with budgetary responsibility, economic efficiency and keeping a broad perspective of the expected economic impact in mind.
NTA's Strategy for the Implementation of Sustainable Development Principles:
1. NTA will take environmental considerations into account in all its operations and decision making processes.
2. NTA will work to reduce environmental hazards according to the principles of sustainable development during the decision making, implementation and operation phases of the project.
3. NTA will work to continually improve the environmental management of the company.
4. Construction and development programs will include an analysis of environmental impacts and environmental guidelines, and will give preference to the continuation of daily life during the implementation phase.
5. Development and landscape programs will encourage the production of green streets, preservation of a "green vision" and the improvement of the urban landscape and street facade.
6. Without detracting from the direct liability of suppliers and contractors to comply with the law with regard to environmental management, the company will set environmental and sustainable development requirements which suppliers and contractors will be required to meet.
7. NTA will work to establish continuous cooperation and dialogue on environmental and social matters, relevant to the company's developmental operations, with all interested parties, including social organizations, community representatives, business owners and local municipalities. The company will operate transparently, professionally and fairly towards the public and other interested parties.
8. NTA will develop a set of indicators and environmental objectives which will guide the company in the long term and will include, among other things, the measurement of effects such as greenhouse gas emission, air pollution, and noise, as well as the efficiency of energy use and waste management.
9. NTA will work to implement sustainability values in its corporate culture and office management and will increase environmental awareness among its employees.
10. NTA will utilize the construction of the LRT project to create positive improvements which will benefit the general public in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and in the entire country.
11. NTA will operate at all times with fiscal responsibility and with strict supervision over company expenses and investments and will utilize economic models to analyze expected demand and expenses.
12. NTA will create a working environment which will empower and develop the capabilities of its employees, who stand at the forefront of knowledge and professionalism, while providing for their welfare and maintaining optimal corporate relations.
Perspective from the Field
Green construction of the LRT Operation and Maintenance Center (Depot)
The Tel Aviv metropolitan area Light Rail Transit project will provide the public in Israel's crowded center with an advanced transit solution. The mass transit system will serve as a driver of economic, social and urban growth while maintaining and even improving quality of life and the environment. Since the LRT is essentially an environmental project, NTA saw fit to plan its maintenance and operation center (the Depot) according to strict sustainable development considerations.
The Depot, which is being constructed in north Petah Tikvah, is designed to provide the LRT with efficient and functional services with a special emphasis on employee and visitor safety. The LRT's maintenance center will function as a "pit stop" for the LRT's vehicles, which will be directed upon arrival to their proper destination within the Depot with maximum efficiency and minimum energy use.
Green Structure: The Depot will be constructed according to the principles of sustainable development, economic efficiency and compliance with environmental objectives. There are plans for construction of "green" structures in the Depot complex, which will be in compliance with international LEED standards (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). The Depot's command center is designed with an atrium in its center to utilize sunlight and reduce the consumption of electricity during daylight hours. The building's windows are designed to maximize available natural light, and the workshop roofs will enable both sunlight and air to pass through them, reducing the consumption of electricity for ventilation and lighting.
Minimizing Environmental Impacts:
Several environmental impacts were assessed during the structure's planning phase in an effort to minimize the environmental impact during construction and operation.
The chosen design prevents environmental hazards caused by bright night-time illumination.
Noise levels will be kept below the accepted standards so that the construction and operation of the LRT won't cause noise pollution in nearby neighborhoods.
Water Recycling: The Depot's water usage is designed to be efficient and cost-effective. Among other things, industrial wastewater will be treated until it is clean enough to be discharged into the municipal sewage system. Likewise, the train vehicles' washing facility will recycle 80% of the water it uses.
Solid Waste: Solid waste will be managed according to the type of waste. Spare parts packaging waste will be transferred to a designated facility. Home/office waste will be transferred to the Petach Tikvah municipal dumping grounds for domestic waste.
The Depot's environmental design and green construction programs are being implemented in a joint effort by leading international and Israeli teams to create an environmentally friendly compound for both employees and nearby residents.
Connecting the Environment, Transit System and Community: Walking, Riding and Traveling by Train
The Light Rail Transit system is characterized by, among other things, the close proximity of various activity centers to its numerous stations. To preserve and improve the urban fabric, the LRT routes are designed to minimize the distance between passengers' starting points, destinations, and LRT stations.
The Light Rail stations will be accessible primarily by foot or bicycle. According to the current forecast, nearly half of the LRT's passengers will access the train by foot. This estimation is expected to increase as more lines commence operation.
As mentioned above, a strong emphasis is also placed on the bicycle as a significant means of access to the LRT stations. To meet this need NTA is creating parking for bicycles, with a designated bicycle parking zone for every 20 passengers who arrive at the station, and is cooperating with the Tel-Ofan bicycle rental network.
Within the framework of street renovations, the design of the mass transit system includes: the paving of bicycle paths along the LRT's main routes, such as on Jabotinsky Street, Aluf Sade Street and Har-Tzion Boulevard. As part of this program, NTA is also evaluating secure bicycle parking solutions to enable bicycle riders to lock their bicycles risk-free.
Children Making a Difference: Hands-on Environmental Education
"Who hasn't stood in a line of cars and inhaled the cloud of smoke that they emitted in the streets of Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Petah Tikvah and Bat Yam? If today the line is 150 meters long, imagine what it will be in 10 years, when today's young generation begins driving? What will be the volume and concentration of the poisons that we will inhale into our lungs? And the number of parking lots that will fill the city?" (From the educational program "Children Making a Difference")
From 2005-2013 NTA cooperated closely with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) in the field of education. Thus was born "Sustainable Transport"– an educational program aimed at children packed with detailed and exciting content. The program was part of the environmental education project, "Children Making a Difference." Within the framework of this program, the children are exposed to environmental topics linked to urban life. The program is available for all ages – from 4th to 12th grade – and is adjusted according to schools' specific needs and locations. The "Sustainable Transport" program consists of 10 meetings over the course of 2 weeks and is available for classes between the 4th grade and middle school.
As its name implies, the program's focus is on the reduction of air pollution and the advancement of a sustainable transport approach which emphasizes alternative means of transit such as buses, trains, bicycles, walking and, of course, Light Rail Transit.
As part of the program, SPNI instructors and key members of NTA visited various schools. The students participated in tours along major transit routes, conducted surveys among their neighborhood residents and school community, and conducted outdoor experiments, which together provided them with a snapshot of air pollution levels in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. In addition, the children learned about the various solutions to Israel's and the world's transit problems and were introduced to the idea of Light Rail Transit. The program concluded with a festive "Summit Day" event where the children presented their hard work to their families and the greater school community in a creative and exciting way.
Trees: Green City, Green Vision
A considerable amount of the LRT's development takes place underground. Where the development takes place above ground, NTA believes in a systematic and program-wide approach to sustainable development and in the improvement of the quality of life of the communities it serves. Naturally, trees have an important if not decisive role in this vision:
1. Aesthetic experience: trees "soften" the tough facade of streets and contribute to our connection with the urban environment.
2. Trees provide shade, which reduces the temperature by 2-5 degrees Celsius. In addition, they reduce the effects of wind during the winter.
3. Trees create a more pleasant environment to walk through or linger in, and help to reduce noise levels.
4. Sociological element – international experiments have proven that trees contribute to people's psychological and mental health. For example, it was discovered that tenants whose buildings are surrounded by trees report having closer ties with their neighbors, a warmer sense of community and a stronger sense of security than tenants who did not live among trees.
5. Trees aid in the reduction of pressure and in reducing the average driving speed.
6. Tree-covered areas were reported to have less crime, vandalism, graffiti, waste, and violence than similar areas without trees.
7. Environmental Impact – trees reduce the level of air pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases by absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2). They improve the quality of groundwater by preventing the pollution of the ground, and can minimize the effects of soil erosion thus mitigating the amount of flooding. Tree tops also hold rainwater, reducing the amount of water that reaches paved surfaces and therefore the amount of water that needs to be drained from the streets. All of these factors contribute to the health of the city's residents and conserve energy.
8. Economic effect – in addition to the conservation of energy and to the money saved on health and maintenance expenses, trees have an additional economic advantage - the appreciation of real estate in their near proximity.
9. Cultural and historical element – trees were a pillar of the Zionist vision of settlement in the land of Israel.
10. NTA formulated guidelines which convey this "green street" vision and list points which need to be taken into consideration when designing LRT stations. Designers are required to create a portrait of the urban area to be developed which includes the planting of trees.
NTA will make as serious an effort as possible to preserve or replant existing trees - some of which have a cultural and historical value and are an inseparable part of the city and its streets.
The new street design uses trees not only for their various benefits but also to divide the urban area through which the LRT will pass into "strips" meeting a variety of needs - walking lanes, street markets and recreation spots.
Through this approach an additional benefit of the LRT is conveyed - the utilization of new infrastructure for the renewal of urban ecology.
Commitment to the Reduction of the Carbon Footprint
The carbon footprint is an internationally recognized term which expresses a project or facility's estimated amount of greenhouse gas emission and its relative contribution to global warming. Greenhouse gases are created during the lifecycle of humans, products, societies, and States. NTA chose to assess the amount of greenhouse gas emission within the framework of its operations right from the planning and early operation phases of the first line out of a commitment to the residents of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, the citizens of the State of Israel and to future generations to make a significant contribution to the reduction of environmental hazards.
Glossary of Terms
The planning and implementation of the LRT lines is accompanied by the preparation of environmental impact assessments (EIA) for each LRT line, and the environmental documents required to obtain construction permits for each line segment. A project of this scale and complexity necessitates a professional approach to the matter of sustainable development and environmental conservation as well as the employment of the top environmental advisors in Israel and abroad.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) – a document which is part of the planning and construction process. The objective of the EIA is to integrate environmental considerations into the decision making process. NTA uses the EIA to consider alternative locations and project plans, choose the optimal means of reducing risks and hazards, and minimize the damage to the landscape along the LRT's routes. The environmental assessments are conducted according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection's guidelines and audited and approved by the relevant planning committees. The EIA includes information regarding environmental impact on water and waste, air quality, hazardous material, noise, radiation and solid waste. The EIA's objective is to maximize environmental conservation by finding ideal alternative designs.
Environmental Appendix for the Prevention of Hazards during Construction – a document which includes a description of: the environment in which the work will be done, the work process during the construction phase and its environmental impact – including noise pollution, vibration, groundwater pollution and excess dust. It provides contractors with stringent guidelines for the prevention of nuisances during construction.
Box – The construction of an underground station is divided into two phases. The construction of the Box and the construction of the interior. The construction of the Box includes all the excavation and concrete structure, including entrances and ventilation shafts.
Light Rail Transit (LRT) – a rail-based mass transit mode, powered electrically. Light rail vehicles have a high passenger capacity and a low floors to make them handicapped accessible.
Maintenance and Operation Center (Depot) – LRT vehicles' maintenance and operation facility. It will be used for vehicle parking and periodic maintenance and repairs, and will house the system's management activities, control center and more.
MTS – mass transit system. A public transit system which operates in crowded urban areas and provides high capacity transit services via urban rail and light rail
Public Transportation Line – the provided service for a certain route. It is defined between its starting point and destination.