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Israel's Policy on Developing Transport Infrastructure

This research focuses on preparing a policy document on the subject of a transport master plan for the National Council for Economy at the Prime Minister's Office.

The objective of the study was to assist in the development of a policy to be determined by the Government on the subject of road and rail transport development in Israel.

The study examined a varied series of parameters of the existing transport system in Israel and evaluating transportation trends abroad, particularly of rail transport solutions. The impact of "business as usual" scenario was analyzed. The facts that Israel is among the most crowded countries in the world in terms of number of cars per km of paved roads was illustrated. That and the limitations of physical size of the country and constrains to further expand the road network, have a great impact on the strategic planning of surface transportation systems in the country.

It is evident that there is a need for immediate shift of priorities toward the development of mass transit systems and rail transportation in the metropolitan areas and in major routes connecting between the center of the country and the periphery, at the expense of the private cars.

In light of the need to design a national policy for the development of sustainable transport system and the necessity to provide the Government with information and recommendations which will allow the implementation of the policy, the study dealt with two separate, although related issues. The trends of research and policy of relevant transport infrastructure issues abroad, particularly in Europe, were evaluated.

Among the subjects that were included in the evaluation: national and regional priorities of the transport modes connecting core and periphery areas; the impact of improved rail transport development on the interaction between central and periphery regions, the impact of efficient and sustainable transport systems between the core and periphery on the level of interactions, housing market, employment pattern and value of land in the periphery.

Another aspect that was part of the study dealt with methodology of evaluation the costs and benefits of transportation projects. One part of that subject was related to methods of analyzing the cost and benefits of the rail project at the level of a single line as opposed to analyzing it as part of a whole rail network. This is particularly important in a national perspective policy. Another part of the methodological part was devoted to the role and significance of "externalities" factors in the evaluation of the benefits of a transport projects. These factors are mostly related to impact of the rail or road project on developments factors of the region, beyond the direct impact of the cost benefit analysis of the transport project. This issue is somewhat controversial between planners and governments but it can have a decisive role in the decision to approve or disapprove a project.

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