If you've been to Tel Aviv, chances are you had to exchange buses in the "new" Central Bus Station. Well, if you have been there, you know it's not too pretty of a site.
The New Tel Aviv Central Bus Station is located in the southern part of Tel Aviv, on Levinski Street. The giant structure sits on a 44,000 square meter property and has seven different levels - four of which are for the buses and five are for the stores and the mall part of the station. That makes the station the second largest central bus station in the world.
So what is the problem with this gigantic megastructure? Let's go back a bit, so we can understand a bit better.
The building began in 1967, and it took around nine years to build the building's frame. The south of Tel Aviv, where the station is located, is not a very sympathetic area, to say the least. It is full of crime, poverty, and drugs, so from the get-go, it was pretty clear the project was going to run into trouble.
During the whole building process, the neighborhood residents complained that the station was going to reduce the value of their homes and bring crime to their neighborhood. Well, guess what? they were absolutely right. It took six years until the building restarted, and after another six years, in 1993, the new station finally opened its doors.
The building is built in a weird way, filled with alleys and half levels, (sort of like the Dizengoff Center if you've been), giving it a real clumsy look. You can really get lost inside, believe us, we've done it several times.
29 escalators, 13 elevators, 1,500 stores, and thousands and thousands of daily passengers on a regular day. The place really is impressive size-wise, but it looks like one big mess. All sorts of different shops, each looks and shaped in its own way, really gives it an erratic look.
There are a lot of homeless people in the area. A lot. Some of them are drug dealers, some criminals, and many of them just wander all around the station - inside and outside. Much of the station smells like urine, it can get extremely dirty, and it is not a place you want to wander around during the night.
The station also has all sorts of bridges and passageways coming out to the streets, that really interfere with the resident's homes and lives. Some of the houses are really close to these bridges, it almost feels like they are touching. All in all, it seems like the planning of the station didn't take into consideration what a social nuisance this structure would create. The town residents have been going through legal lawsuits and complaints for decades, and the issues are still yet to be decided. This is what we refer to here as classic Israeli bureaucracy.
So, although holding the title of the second biggest central bus station in the world is pretty admirable, the whole project can be declared as a pretty big failure. That's how we feel anyhow. We hope we didn't scare you too much, it really isn't that bad, and it has become part of the Tel Aviv scenery. Hopefully, at some point, someone will be able to turn the place around!