One of Jerusalem’s most entertaining and tasty destinations is the Machane Yehuda Market on the western side of downtown Jerusalem. Getting there used to be a breeze as almost every bus line in the city would stop within a few hundred yards of the bustling food market.
If you’re planning on visiting the market over the next few months–a word of caution. Avoid the bus and try to get there on foot, AND, when you’re walking in and around the market–exercise a good deal of caution on and around the sidewalks.
All this because the city’s light rail system is being tested and every single bus that used to use the central Jaffa Road artery has now been diverted along the extremely narrow Agrippas Street that marks the southern edge of Machane Yehuda--the street that shoppers can’t avoid to get in and out of the market.
Haaretz reports, as I have seen myself, that the articulated buses plying the route cannot negotiate the narrow street and are forced to go up on the sidewalk where unsuspecting pedestrians not paying attention are put in danger.
The disruption is, hopefully, temporary–in April testing will be completed and the light rail will start running on a limited basis until the planned opening in August 2011. But all those buses (1,000 per day running up a street that was designed when hardly anyone in Jerusalem owned a car) supposedly will then magically vanish and morph into feeder lines that are supposed to take passengers from the outlying neighborhoods to the light rail stations..
Visitors shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to experience Jerusalem’s main market–but do pay special attention on the sidewalks and try to avoid the overcrowded buses and take advantage of Jerusalem’s generally good early springtime walking weather to get around.