Haifa's Carmelit funicular subway.  Image by Rol247* on Flickr licensed under Creative Commons.

The city of Haifa in Israel is home to what must be the world's most bizarre subway. The Carmelit is a fully underground funicular. It's a little over 1 mile long, and carries passengers from downtown Haifa up through the terraced neighborhoods that cling to the side of Mount Carmel.

The Carmelit isn't just a tourist novelty. It's bona fide urban transportation, albeit on a small scale. Haifa's neighborhoods rise upward along a steep mountainside, making funicular a reasonable way to travel.

Haifa clings to the slope of Mount Carmel. Image by Photorolandi on Flickr licensed under Creative Commons.

Entrances to the Carmelit look pretty much like normal subway entrances.

Carmelit subway entrance. Image by Vcohen on Wikimedia licensed under Creative Commons.

But it's not exactly accessible for the disabled, and parents hauling strollers may think twice.

Image by Inbal_w on Flickr licensed under Creative Commons.

Continuous stairs even run up the inside of the trains.

Interior of a Carmelit train. Image by Osmar Valdebenito on Flickr licensed under Creative Commons.

The Carmelit opened in 1959, has only a single track, and carries somewhere around 2,000-3,000 passengers per day.

It's, well, unique.

Image by Chris Yunker on Flickr licensed under Creative Commons.


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Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and an adjunct professor at George Washington University. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado and lives in Trinidad, DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post. Dan blogs to express personal views, and does not take part in GGWash's political endorsement decisions.