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Travel topics > Transportation > Bus travel > Public transit in Israel

Buses are the most common form of public transportation in Israel for Israelis and foreigners alike. They are generally frequent and modern, but often slow.

Since the late 1990s, trains have changed from a niche element of public transit to a popular network covering most major cities: ridership increased more than tenfold from 1996 to 2016 and keeps rising. However, as many train stations are located awkwardly in highway medians out of town, you'll often have to add a local bus ride to your train trips. Israel Railways offers combined tickets for this which aren't necessarily even more expensive than just the train ticket.

Rav-Kav, a public transit smartcard, ties the whole system together. Buses must and trains can be paid by Rav-Kav. It is strongly advised that any traveler to Israel get a Rav-Kav, ideally when they arrive at Ben Gurion Airport or Ramon Airport. You can also use a supported mobile ticketing app to pay for your travels without a Rav-Kav card. You cannot use cash to pay for rides directly to drivers.

OperatorsEdit

Every bus route in Israel is operated by a single bus company. Egged and Dan used to be the dominant operators, but they have been replaced by other companies in an effort to increase competition. In order to find the route you need and which company operates it, see the #Understand section below. Trains are operated by Israel Railways, and the Jerusalem light rail system is operated by Citypass. While buses cover most of the country, the rail network ends at Beer Sheva and Dimona. If you wish to go to Eilat without flying, you'll have to take a bus.

The quality of service of the newer bus companies varies from very good to poor, not only between companies but also between regions and routes of the same company.

Bus operators include:

 
Israeli buses with several types of coloring

StationsEdit

 
Passengers at Jerusalem Central Bus station

Major cities have Central Bus Stations (תחנה מרכזית, "takhana merkazit"), which are the terminals where most intercity routes begin and end. Most of these stations have been rebuilt as air-conditioned malls. Generally, many city bus routes run on the street just outside the central bus station. Sometimes these stations are in a city's downtown, but often they are on the edge of a city, next to a main road to minimize travel time.

While the Ottoman and British colonial authorities built some train lines, most train stations date to the 1990s or later, and they are often located out of town in highway medians. Train stations are usually served by local buses which will get you to your final destination.

Fares and ticketsEdit

Fares are relatively low by Western standards. As of Feb 2021, a single urban bus ride costs ₪6.00 in most metropolitan areas, but could be as little as ₪2.50 in smaller cities. Intercity fares vary approximately based on distance. Trips between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv cost ₪15.50 one way. The most expensive journey is between Haifa/Tel Aviv/Jerusalem and Eilat, costing ₪68.50 one way.

Train rides are usually slightly more expensive than buses. For example, a ride from Haifa to Dimona with local buses on both ends costs ₪6.00 in Haifa for the bus, then ₪56.00 for the train (very limited service on the Dimona line that you will have to transfer to) and another ₪2.50 for the Dimona bus. You'd be better off loading up an "Entire country" day pass for ₪58.50 on your Rav-Kav to cover such a route, although if you travel on this route one-way using stored value balance, it will be cheaper than the pass.

Local buses are almost always cheaper (as little as half the price) than intercity buses (like Egged), although they stop more often and thus take longer. So it is a good idea to rely on them for trips around the area, e.g. Golan Heights. Travelers on a shoestring might even consider taking several local buses in a row, to enjoy the landscape and save money (better with an appropriate day pass on the Rav-Kav).

See the English-language fare guide for updated information about Rav-Kav fares in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Be'er Sheva, and their suburbs. There is a lot to read here;

  • You can start with the maps of what is considered an urban ride in each area. This zoning applies to Rav-Kav periodic passes usage and mobile ticketing distance level 1 (below) only. Periodic passes are valid on any method of public transportation available within the areas covered in the appropriate pass, so you can, for example, freely interchange bus and Israel Railways if you have a pass that covers your route.
  • You can also check out a comprehensive fare guide at Egged's website for Rav-Kav one-way single-ride stored value balance trips. These fare codes cover only Egged service. Other companies' single-ride fares may be checked on their websites.
  • You can use this page for prices of periodic passes and their coverage for each metropolitan area. It is better to use online maps: transit planning apps such as efoBus have them included.
  • For rail fares and timetables, see the Israel Railways website.

Ticketing can be done by drivers on the bus or at validators in the bus. A loaded Rav-Kav, or a supported self-service mobile ticketing app, is required. If you're using Rav-Kav, it is better to validate from the driver directly: you don't need a terminal ticket booth if you already have a pass or enough balance loaded. Ticket contracts can also be bought at ticket booths in terminals to be loaded on a Rav-Kav card. Exact change is not necessary: cashiers will give change for notes up to 10 times the fare. Payment by credit card is accepted at ticket booths for fares over ₪22.

Mobile ticketing appsEdit

 
City buses in Tel Aviv

Since December 15, 2020, it has also been possible to pay for your rides through a government mobile app or a few privately run apps.

  • The Station (התחנה). The official Ministry of Transport mobile ticketing app.
  • Rav-Pass (רב-פס). App run by HopOn.
  • Moovit. App run by Moovit via Pango.
  • ANYWAY. App run by Isracard.

The method goes as follows: you install an app, link a credit card and create your passenger profile. Israel citizens or long-term visa foreigners may as well apply for applicable discount profiles (same as with Rav-Kav below). Then, when boarding, select to pay-as-you-go for a ride. The method of doing so, varies:

  • For buses, scan the QR code in the bus, or for Metronit, scan the QR code on the platform stop shed before boarding, and confirm the route number, its direction, and boarding and alighting stops.
  • For Israel Railways, display an app-generated QR code to the scanner on platform entry turnstiles, then confirm exit when getting off at your destination and make sure to display another QR code to the exit turnstiles (even if they are open for any reason); otherwise, you will be charged the fare for the longest possible ride. On Carmelit, an entry QR is enough as there are no exit turnstiles.

You pay in shekels post-paid on a monthly basis for your rides done in the previous month if you used an Israeli credit card. You pay on an end-of-day charge basis if you used rides when a debit card or a foreign issued credit/debit card is linked to the passenger profile account.

On buses, fixed one-way ride fares depend on aerial distance from ride start point to the alighting point per ride. Free 90-minute transfers available in the entire country for distance level 1 only. As of Feb 2021, the fares are:

Distance level Distance, km Fare, ₪
1 15.00 ₪6.00, ₪3.00*, ₪4.00**
2 25.00 ₪10.00
3 55.00 ₪14.50
4 100.00 ₪24.50
5 250.00 ₪34.00
6 More than 250.00 ₪54.00

* - If the ride starts in zones 122, 123, 133, 134, 135, 421, 422, 423, 431, 432, 433, 434, 501, 502, 602, 902, 903.

** - If the ride starts in zones 131, 234, 331, 332, 333, 410, 601, 701, 801, 802, 901.

You may refer to this map detailing the above fares for the first distance level.

Daily cap discount is available, so you won't be billed more for rides done within the longest distance threshold per day:

Distance level Distance, km Day cap fare, ₪ Day cap fare if used trains, ₪
1 15.00 ₪12.50 ₪15.50
2 25.00 ₪20.50 ₪24.50
3 55.00 ₪27.50 ₪34.00
4 100.00 ₪41.00 ₪49.00
5 250.00 ₪58.50 ₪58.50
6 More than 250.00 ₪293.50 ₪293.50

On Israel Railways, standard fixed one-way train ride fares are used, the same as for Rav-Kav, however without a stored value discount. Daily cap discount for aerial distance still apply.

At the monthly billing cycle, if the amount total of daily charges for the previous cycle reach an applicable threshold, a discount is issued, and then the outcome total is posted to the credit card account.

Discount level Amount of total daily charges Discount percent Discount cap per discount level (cumulative)
1 ₪0 - ₪200.00 0%
2 ₪200.01 - ₪400.00 75% ₪147.00
3 ₪400.01 - ₪1000 50% ₪440.50
4 More than ₪1000 25%

Notes in regards to mobile ticketing:

  • Not yet valid on CityPass Jerusalem light rail (use Rav-Kav for it or a paper one-ride ticket).
  • Day is considered from 00:00:01 to 23:59:59.
  • Month is considered from 25th of month up to 24th of the next month (month billing cycle reset).
  • 90-minutes distance level 1 transfers: from the moment of first ride start. Bus, train, Technion cable car inclusive.
  • Foreign credit card users do benefit from the month discounts, but because foreign cards are charged on a day basis, a negative charge will be posted to the account where a monthly discount applies. Some apps may recalculate that daily, others apply on the normal month billing cycle.

Rav-KavEdit

 
Rav-Kav service counter and a transit information counter, both operated by Egged

Rav-Kav, .     The dominant form of payment for bus rides is the Rav-Kav card. You must use a Rav-Kav in order to ride buses in Israel if you do not use a supported mobile ticketing app. Rav-Kav is a card used for payment on all forms of public transport in Israel. It can be charged with:

  • Israeli shekel-based stored value for random rides;
  • prepaid discount deals for multiple rides on specific bus routes (phased out);
  • periodic passes that cover all transportation within included zones.

The card offers an additional discount for registered youth, student, national insurance beneficiaries, disabled, senior citizen and others.

It may be possible to obtain an anonymous Rav-Kav when you board the bus then use it to pay for your ride, though it may be prone to problems (language difficulties, drivers that don't have an available card inventory, etc.).

You can obtain Rav-Kav in Ben Gurion Airport, Terminal 3, Arrivals hall - at a service center post that is open Su-Th 24 hr, F 07:00-14:00, Sa from 22:00, or at the service center post in the arrivals hall of Ramon Airport.

You can use the Rav-Kav Online app and a few others to charge your ticket contracts if you have an Android phone that have a supported NFC module (iPhones are supported since iOS 13). You can't get a refund for loaded stored value or for any other contract after the contract was validated, so don't load more than you need or are comfortable to lose.

Rav-Kav does not work on service of East Jerusalem operators and service going to the West Bank of those operators. It is also not valid for any internal routes in the Palestinian Authority or Gaza Strip, or for any transit that is not considered public transit by Ministry of Transport. For example, the Haifa Bat Galim - Stella Maris cable car is a Ministry of Tourism venue. However, the cable car from HaMifratz Central Bus Station at the foot of Mount Carmel to the Technion, is classified as public transit, and thus, accept Rav-Kav and mobile ticketing apps.

Service taxis (sherut), which run on fixed routes like bus lines, do not accept the Rav-Kav, except service taxi lines 4, 2 and 5 in Tel Aviv, and a few others.

There are three types of cards:

Anonymous
an anonymous card that can be charged with stored value credit (of the Standard profile below only) or with some special fare products (like a multi-ride book of tickets, or a day or week pass). This card can be purchased for ₪5 from any bus driver during the ride, and the appropriate contract then added to it (except in Beer Sheva, Jerusalem and Zone 1 of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, where you get the card for ₪11.00 that include a 1-trip contract, after using which you have to find a recharging point). The card can also be bought at Rav-Kav service centers, bus and train stations or at Metronit ticket charge machines in Haifa.
Registered
includes the passenger's details and photo. Only registered Rav-Kav cards can be used to purchase extended special fare classes (like the month or 30-day pass), or to receive a youth, student or senior citizen discount special profile. A registered card is insured for loss or theft. The passenger's usage history will be recorded and saved. This card type can be obtained only at Rav-Kav service centers during business hours or may also be issued and mailed (no international deliveries) from the Rav-Kav Online website, though you need to wait until Israel Post deliver it. You must show ID (Israeli and foreign passports are accepted, as are Israeli ID cards and driving licenses). Although the service centers' clerks might refuse to issue a personal card to a foreigner due to lack of training, you can insist and ask them to issue it against a foreign passport. It works, though the clerks may be left surprised that it worked. Issuance of special profiles for additional discounts is available for foreigners that are staying in Israel on a long-term visa (e.g. transfer students), otherwise even children and elders will only get standard profile.
Half-registered or Semi-anonymous
Same as Registered, but doesn't record the passenger's usage history to the central transit databases. Only the last 6 actions are recorded on the card to allow fare inspection. This type of card offers the same discounts of the Registered card but is not insured for loss or theft.

Card validity is eight years after issuance. If your card is near expiration, you can get fresh eight years of validity with transfer of your balances to a new card (but not for Anonymous) at any Rav-Kav service center. You can also extend the validity for another six months (and afterwards again unlimited, so basically no expiration if you remember to do it in time every six months) in the Rav-Kav Online app (Anonymous can also be extended that way). However if your card is starting to glitch up on reading, it's best to have it reissued at the service center.

Payment methodsEdit

The card can be recharged with pay-as-you-go "stored value" credit (Hebrew: erekh tzavur) and/or with other special fare cards (each one called a "contract", Hebrew: hozeh) like a daily, weekly or monthly pass or a multi-ride ticket (multi-ride have been phased out as of January 2020, some continue to exist in a one-ride version). All three card types can hold up to eight different active contracts simultaneously.

If your Android smartphone has an NFC module, you can check the content of your Rav-Kav, purchase and load contracts using credit/debit cards, as well as check your ride history (last six events are recorded on the card), using the Rav-Kav Online or HopOn, or a few other apps. Check at your smartphone's app store. iPhones can be used for this purpose with the Rav-Kav Online app only if you run iOS 13 or later.

It is also possible to obtain a USB card reader in Rav-Kav service centers for ₪10 and recharge the card yourself using credit/debit cards at RavKavOnline or at HopOn. Other USB contact and USB NFC contactless card readers do also work, so if you already have one for an eID, for example, you may use that also. For USB NFC, ensure that the reader works with Type B ISO 14443 contactless cards (13.56 MHz). For USB contact, any smartcard reader for ISO 7816 chip cards will work.

You can recharge contracts at cashier's terminals at participating stores. Map is available here, here or here. Be wary of points labeled as "ATM only" or "Tel-o-fun": see below.

You can recharge Rav-Kav at Casponet ATMs and Tel-o-fun bicycle rental stations. These methods aren't recommended (at direct use) though, because the Casponet ATM often only offer to reload the contract types that already were on the card and offer several types of other contracts valid in the area where the ATM is located. It is often not what you may want to load, so it may create a false perception of which contract types there are. For example, it does not offer inter-regional periodic pass contracts. For stored value, it may only offer to recharge the same recharge amount type that was on the card previously (you used up your ₪50 charge, wish to only recharge for ₪30, but the ATM often will offer you the ₪50 charge type that was on the card previously).

  • You can directly recharge in the ATM if you wish to try it: you insert your credit card, choose Rav-Kav button, take out the credit card, insert the Rav-Kav in its place (Rav-Kav with contact chip only), then select one of the offered contracts to load and confirm. You don't need to re-insert your credit card back.
  • You can use the Casponet ATM indirectly (this is the recommended way, should you choose to use it) by using the contract reservation feature of Rav-Kav Online (if you neither have a NFC module in your phone, nor a card reader to use the service directly). First reserve any desired contract at Rav-Kav Online website (mobile browsers also work), then insert the Rav-Kav card that you reserved a contract for, into the ATM and confirm the contract load.
  • Tel-o-fun bicycle rental stations can not be directly used to recharge Rav-Kav. Instead you have to first order the contract as a "remote load" (similarly to Rav-Kav Online contract reservation) at the HopOn website, then redeem the reservation by inserting your Rav-Kav to the bicycle rental station and confirming the load.

It is no longer possible to recharge cards with bus drivers. You have to find a recharging point, a shop with Rav-Kav recharge cashier terminal, or use the mobile app or website with card reader, or other methods noted above.

Stored valueEdit

In a nutshell

To convert a loaded stored value amount to a shekel value, and to find out if using available stored value will be cheaper than an available periodic pass or not, subtract the profile discount (20%, 33% or 50%) from the amount, and you get shekel value. This also works for evaluating a one-way fare amount, or a sum of all one-way fares of the transit that you plan to take for the day, week or month likewise, in the affected zones.

  • 1.00 of standard profile balance (-20%) = ₪0.8
  • 1.00 of discounted 33% profile (-33%) = ₪0.67
  • 1.00 of discounted 50% profile (-50%) = ₪0.5

To convert a shekel value to stored value amount, add the profile discount to it in reverse

  • ₪1 to standard profile balance = add 25% = 1.25 of standard profile balance
  • ₪1 to discounted 33% balance = add 50% = 1.50 of discounted 33% profile balance
  • ₪1 to standard profile balance = add 100% = 2.00 of discounted 50% profile balance

Almost everywhere, the simplest way to use the card is to add credit to your stored value balance. At transit operators' recharge points, it's only possible to add fixed amounts of ₪30, ₪50, ₪100, ₪150 and ₪200. The fixed amount is loaded to the card with the appropriate additions to the available stored value balance to grant the appropriate discounts for one-way fares as follows:

Amount you pay Stored value amount you get per profile
Standard profile (20%) National Insurance Beneficiary, Disabled or Standard Student (33%) Youth, Senior Citizen or Extended Student (50%)
₪30 37.50 45.00 60.00
₪50 62.50 75.00 100.00
₪100 125.00 150.00 200.00
₪150 187.50 225.00 300.00
₪200 250.00 300.00 400.00

This stored value amount can then be used bit-by-bit to pay for one-way fares. If you are using stored value, the fare is cheaper by the appropriate discount than a full-fare ticket for full price without Rav-Kav with a mobile ticketing app (although using a mobile ticketing app has its own advantages and disadvantages).

You can not use the stored value balance to purchase other ticket types for it, because you already received the discount when charging it — no double discounts. Remember that stored value is not a shekel amount, but a value representation of passenger profile discount. Occasional wrong use of the shekel ₪ symbol in reference to stored value balance at validation receipts, recharging points and applications, is an ongoing problem that often causes the passenger to forget that the profile discount was already given at (re)load time.

Using Rav-Kav Online app, website with card reader, or a recharge point at a supported store cashier, you may also load a flexible amount (from ₪30 to ₪300 per transaction) to your stored value balance. Paying amounts such as ₪31 (that get you 38.75 to standard profile balance) should be avoided, though. If the stored value balance amount (that is to be received and to be summarized with the existing balance, not the amount you pay) does result in a value that is not a multiple of 0.10, you will have issues using 90-minute transfers (see below). So if your balance does not end in xx.x0, you will pay twice on transfers on Egged, Carmelit and Dan North (Metronit) on each validation. If you have a personal card with special discount profiles (for foreigners that usually apply to transfer students), and at any point in time used stored value conversion as a result of expiring profiles, you should fix up your balance with a flexible amount load, for it to be correct (multiples of 0.10).

You can combine reloads or load several times, such as load ₪50 then ₪30 to get 37.50+62.50=100.00 of standard profile balance or ₪30 twice to get 75.00. It's not possible, however, to have more than 999.90 of stored value credit across all profiles on the card (including locked balance on expired profiles, that need to be converted up) at any given time simultaneously. If after several charges your overall balance would exceed the maximum value, that charge attempt won't succeed.

Stored value payments are accepted everywhere.

You usually won't be using the same stored value for group travel of several passengers. It is recommended that each passenger have their own Rav-Kav card. Most importantly, you can not group travel on one card on Israel Railways. But if you still insist on other transport means, it works as follows:

  • On buses you should ask the driver to ticket you as a group prior to tapping the card on the terminal. If boarding on a middle door validator, choose the passenger amount prior to validation and ensure the fare code that you are about to get charged. Several separate one-passenger validations in a row won't grant 90-minute transfers for any ride that isn't the last one recorded, where available. To get transfers as a group, the entire validation has to be a group as one operation. On the next transport means that is eligible for transfers, you validate once for the entire group.
  • If you are using a periodic pass, you validate it on yourself. The other passengers use your stored value for a one-way ride.
  • On the Jerusalem light rail, you can not start a group trip for several passengers on one card (double-use block). If you took an Egged city bus first, you can transfer as a group to the light rail, but you must explicitly tell the driver that you need the right ticket validation type (fare code 2, not 62, and specify amount of passengers). This validation type allows transfer to the light rail. You can choose fare code 2 (not 62), and the number of passengers yourself, if boarding on a middle door validator, prior to validation (This is a code overlap issue: the bus can validate you both a trip that can, and also one that can not be used to transfer to the light rail, and these two tickets share the same fare price, so beware and ask the correct ticket, otherwise a double charge will likely occur, and a light rail fine if you are a group, as it will start a new one-person ride, not the group transfer (validate once, and only if the bus ride was ticketed as a group ride vs. separate validations) ).
  • Group travel works only for anonymous cards, half-registered or personal cards with the Standard profile, or said cards with Youth profile. Youth must use group travel only with passengers who are also eligible to youth profile. They must not use their 50% discounted stored value balance towards grouping with an adult. No other profile can use group travel.

90-minute transfersEdit

 
Rav-Kav reader machine on the Jerusalem Light Rail, with the Rav-Kav logo

Most metropolitan areas (Haifa, Jerusalem, Beer Sheva, and the entire Tel Aviv area) have automatic free transfers within the area. Transfers are valid for 90 minutes and only work within this separate zoning, which is different than the zoning used for periodic passes. Travel outside these zones on stored value is distance-dependent and does not include any transfers.

Notes for 90-min transfers when using stored value balance for one-way rides (fares as of Feb 2021):

  • Jerusalem: the fare is 6.00, fare code 62 (on buses) or code 2 (light rail, or choose when transferring to it from the bus)
  • Beer Sheva: the fare is 4.00
  • Tel Aviv metropolitan area:
    • Within the borders of Zone 1 of Tel Aviv metropolitan area (zone 2100) the fare is 6.00, fare code 42.
    • Within the borders of the eastern Rosh-ha-Ayin area (zone 2220), the fare is 6.00, fare code 41.
    • Within the borders of the northern Sharon area (zone 2210), the fare is 6.00, fare code 43.
    • To keep your right for a 90-min transfer when crossing these zones in any combination, you should in the first bus ask the driver to charge you 9.00 on fare code 44 (or, if boarding any middle door with a validator, first tap the "choose another fare" button on the validator (above the passenger count on Dan validators or under it on Egged validators), then choose code 44 for 9.00 charge, then validate the card), otherwise you will be paying 6.00 twice for each zone separately.
      • Sometimes the buses perform their route while misconfigured. This may happen with Metropoline, Kavim and Afikim. A line that performs a cross-zone route, such as Metropoline line 561, may have the validators' and driver terminal's GPS be stuck in the wrong zone, which causes only that zone's code be available along with code 44, and in case of travel on a periodic pass, only the passes that include the stuck zone can be validated.
        • If, for example, the 561 bus, while already in Tel Aviv, thinks that it is still in Kfar-Saba, then only code 43 and 44 will be available. Periodic passes will only work if it's code 142 and others, that include zone 2.1. A central zone only pass (141) won't work, and the stored value will be charged for either code 44, which is usually default on cross zone lines, or for code 43 for an internal northern zone ride. This will also cause problems, if there will be an inspection, as about everyone in bus have the wrong zone validated. Should you transfer in Tel Aviv with code 43 validation, you will be double-charged unless the second bus is also "stuck" in the northern zone. The same may happen if you are on an internal ride in northern zones, but the bus is "stuck" in a code 42 zone. All this wrong zone config can also happen on a line whose route is inside a zone in its entirety, so board by driver and thoroughly check the validation receipt, as only the last operation of the entire terminal (and not per card) can be cancelled by driver for a fare fix.
  • Haifa: there are four transfers-enabled fares in the area: code 1 for 5.00 of balance, code 2 for 6.00, code 4 for 9.00 and code 6 for 12.00. Only stored value balance will grant you transfers on one-way rides (or you may just use the periodic passes, that may get you cheaper travel at times).
    • Metronit ticketing is done on the platform ticketing machines, not on the bus. Insert card to the recharging point into the correct (green) slot, select the Choose contract for validation option, then the contract to be used, and take out the card on the beep, then board the Metronit. The smallest validation poles on the platform will only validate for the current zone, and will only work if you have only either the periodic pass, or stored value loaded on the card, and won't work if you have (or had) more than one contract loaded (or the flexible charge reload type of stored value). So use the recharging point.
    • To keep your right for 90-min transfer when crossing these zones in any combination, use the following table. If boarding by driver on Egged city buses, tell the fare code or destination to the driver prior to validation. Or choose the right fare on middle door validators prior to validation. Otherwise, you will risk getting fined by inspectors, if you are found with an improper ticket for your journey (e.g., you paid a lower fare but were caught on a long ride), or will be paying more than you should when you transfer (fares as of Feb 2021). This is especially true on the Metronit, so choose the right fare when validating stored value in the recharging point.
Zone Greater Haifa (51) HaMifrats
Bus Station (56)
HaCarmel
Bus Station (57)
Krayot (52) Atlit (55) Rechasim (54) Yokneam-Ilit -
Kiryat Tiv'on (53)
Nesher (58) Tirat HaCarmel
Greater Haifa (51) 6.00
code 2
HaMifrats
Bus Station (56)
6.00
code 2
-
HaCarmel
Bus Station (57)
6.00
code 2
6.00
code 2
-
Krayot (52) 9.00
code 4
5.00
code 1
9.00
code 4
5.00
code 1
Atlit (55) 9.00
code 4
9.00
code 4
9.00
code 4
12.00
code 6
5.00
code 1
Rechasim (54) 9.00
code 4
9.00
code 4
9.00
code 4
9.00
code 4
12.00
code 6
2.50
code 61 *
Yokneam-Ilit -
Kiryat Tiv'on (53)
12.00
code 6
12.00
code 6
12.00
code 6
12.00
code 6
12.00
code 6
9.00
code 4
5.00
code 1
Nesher (58) 6.00
code 2
5.00
code 1
6.00
code 2
9.00
code 4
9.00
code 4
9.00
code 4
12.00
code 6
5.00
code 1
Tirat HaCarmel 6.00
code 2
6.00
code 2
6.00
code 2
9.00
code 4
9.00
code 4
9.00
code 4
12.00
code 6
6.00
code 2
5.00
code 1

* - No transfer, but 5.00 code 1 with transfers also valid.

Periodic passesEdit

Periodic passes will let you ride for less at times, such as if you need round-trip intercity travel, or wish to visit several cities in a day, or hopping on seeing half a country in a day.

If you buy a day, week, month or a 30 days pass for the appropriate metropolitan area transport zones, the pass is valid for unlimited travel on both bus and train (and other means such as the Metronit, Carmelit and light rail) within the included zones. For example, in Tel Aviv if you get a periodic pass that covers both Zone 1 and Zone 2 (Gush-Dan Extended, predefined code 142), you can use it for unlimited travel on buses and between all train stations that are included in those zones as long as your day or week or month pass is valid. See zone maps here.

On Rav-Kav Online you can choose a day in advance as well. Advance selling times vary for each contract type, variants and chosen issuing operator though, most offer you one week into the future, but some may be stocked for up to three weeks.

Notes:

  • A day pass is valid from midnight of the chosen day until 04:00 the next day (i.e., for 28 hours). Any night lines are considered service for the previous day, yet if you have two day passes for two days straight and travel at night in-between, they will overlap and won't automatically work: the driver will ask you which one of your passes to validate on.
  • A week pass is valid from midnight of the first chosen day, and for 7 days until 04:00 on the eighth day.
  • A flexible 30 days pass is valid from midnight of the first chosen day, and for 30 days until 04:00 on the 31st day. They can not be loaded on anonymous cards.
  • A calendar month pass is valid from midnight on the first day of the month until 23:59:59 of the last day of the month, no overnight service. Calendar month passes are only sold between the 25th of the previous month until the 5th of the month of their validity. They are not valid until the 1st of the month for which they are purchased. They cannot be loaded on anonymous cards.
  • Israel Railways only sells the flexible 30 day pass type. Other transit operators usually stick to the calendar month pass in their own recharge points. The two types are interchangeable, so a calendar month pass is valid on trains, and a flexible pass loaded in the middle of a month is valid on buses. Both types are available on Rav-Kav Online, HopOn and at cashier's terminals in stores, so specify which type you need.
  • Consider using the calendar month passes if you load at the start of a 31-day month, as the prices are the same. However, a flexible 30 days pass loaded on February 1 will be valid until early morning of March 3rd (or 2nd in a leap year).

Student passenger profile holders also may buy semester and annual passes for any chosen zones. There are two types of student passenger profiles:

  • Standard Student: is a student who did not buy a semester or annual pass, and is receiving 33% discount for all stored value rides. May use standard profile passes.
  • Extended Student: is a student who did buy a semester or annual pass for any chosen zones, and is receiving 50% discount for all stored value rides done outside of the zones of their pass, and may use standard profile passes for areas not included in their obtained semester or annual passes.

Senior citizen passenger profile holders get all standard profile passes for half of their price.

Multi-ride contractsEdit

This contract type consists of pre-loaded trips for the chosen fare code only, to be used in a certain region on certain routes. They are phased out as of January 2020, and are available as one-ride contracts for some areas for when you may not want to commit for a stored value load (in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem metropolitan areas only). Though all the routes are covered with stored value or periodic passes, therefore it is not recommended to commit on these multi-ride contracts.

In case you still have loaded unused rides on older cancelled multi-ride contracts of other routes as follows, you must make your way to the corresponding operator's Rav-Kav service center in order to merge the loaded rides' value into stored value balance, or get a cash refund.

  • Lines of Afikim in the Samaria area (Zone 3.4 of Tel Aviv metropolitan area, or area 134, ticket fare codes 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 21, 24, 26, 28, 50, 52;
  • Lines of Egged Taavura in the Judaea area (Zones 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 of Jerusalem metropolitan area, or areas 621, 622, 623, ticket fare codes 24, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 63.

Other detailsEdit

After paying on a bus with the Rav-Kav, keep your paper receipt for the duration of the ride, in case of inspection. Validators at the middle doors won't give you a paper receipt, but display your ride on the screen. Inspection will scan the card.

Cases of misconfigured bus validations for the wrong zone, wrong fare code validations and cases of double charges in 90-minute transfers, may be sorted in the Rav-Kav service center of the affected operator only.

EilatEdit

 
Egged buses lined up in Eilat

Buses to and from Eilat are better to be reserved in advance (at a ticket booth, by phone, internet, or the Egged mobile app). It may be possible to board just before departure without a reservation and pay the fare if there are still free seats in the bus and no one is coming with a reservation. Only the mobile app reservation method will let you reserve a seat to Eilat using Rav-Kav, without paying for a full-fare paper non-discounted ticket.

To do so, you pick the reservation-only slip from the ticketing machine. The confirmation number is shown when you confirm the reservation in the app, so write it down. You board the bus and pay the fare using Rav-Kav stored value, which is cheaper because you got the profile discount when you recharged the stored value - a 68.50 fare to standard profile stored value balance actually costs you ₪54.80. All other buses are first come first served.

Heavy railEdit

 
Israel Railways single one-way paper ticket from Petah Tikva Kiryat Arye to Tel Aviv haShalom

For intercity rail, at each station there are ticket machines you can use to buy individual one-way rides as paper tickets without discounts, or load them as ticket contracts to the Rav-Kav. Pass on the platform entry turnstiles to start using the ticket. Be sure to validate on the exit turnstiles at your destination, for the used ticket to be closed and no longer occupy one of the 8 slots of the card. You can use cash or credit cards to load one-way tickets, books of 6 or 12 trips between some chosen stations, recharge the stored value balance, or get periodic pass contracts. It is no longer possible to get round-trip tickets, neither on paper tickets without Rav-Kav, nor as contracts.

Using the staffed ticket booth, you may also load periodic passes for advance use up to one week, so it is an option if you plan to be on a hurry on the chosen day. Or if you use the Rav-Kav Online app or website, you can choose a day in advance there as well.

Stored value balance that is already on the card can also be used to pay for one-way trips. This is recommended, as you won't get the profile discount if you load a separate one-way contract. To use the stored value for your ride, select the lower button on the ticket machine screen "Validate trip using stored value" (or "Use stored value for the ride" on newer machines' interface) then select your destination, while noting the price of your fare. It is also possible to cancel that pre-validation, if you decide to not travel or chose the wrong station, by putting the card on the ticket machine again. (The stored value deduction occurs on the entry turnstiles to the platforms.)

You can not validate several passengers on a single Rav-Kav ticket contract when using Israel Railways. It is recommended to obtain a card for each passenger if you wish to use the railways as a group. Or you can use standard profile stored value towards issuing paper tickets for additional passengers, choose the option to "use towards paper ticket" on the stored value entry after getting the Rav-Kav contents on the ticket machine. Special profile holders can not issue paper tickets using this option.

UnderstandEdit

 
A subway style map of Israeli rail services

The best way to find out routes and schedules is to use apps or websites that combine information about all bus and railway companies, such as Google Maps, efoBus and Moovit.

The level of passenger information provided by the companies varies. Each company is responsible for information on its services, and does not provide other companies' routes or times. (For this reason, the Ministry of Transport has established a unified information center.) Fellow passengers are usually very friendly and helpful (sometimes overwhelmingly so), so you can ask them.

The Israel Railways website offers schedules and fares. A handy tool on the website is the "crowding index" which shows how crowded the train is likely to be at specific intermediate stops based on data of the last two weeks.

Israel Railways operates a fleet of relatively modern trains with a lot of multiple units manufactured by Bombardier and Siemens, which look like the same class of vehicles in use in continental Europe, including a red paint scheme reminiscent of Deutsche Bahn. Israel Railways also uses Danish IC3. In general, Israeli rail lines are built to continental European standards.

The ridership and network size of Israel Railways have grown tremendously since the 1990s and there's been hardly a year since without a major new route or network improvement coming online. One that made international news was the 2018 opening of Israel's first electric rail line to Jerusalem via Ben Gurion Airport. Since then electrification has progressed on more and more lines. There are plans to eventually electrify the entire network with the possible exception of the old Jaffa Jerusalem line. Some sources may therefore be outdated, but Israel Railways keeps their own website up to date.

At stations and stopsEdit

 
Concrete-made bus stop, with the "yellow flag" sign

In many central stations you can find electronic information boards, which provide info on destinations, platforms and times of departures within the next hour. These boards usually have a column for English names, but are ordered by Hebrew alphabet. In big terminals it might take a few minutes until you get the info you need.

In central stations you will find staffed information booths. There may be separate booths for the separate bus companies that serve a station.

Bus stops in cities and on the roads are marked by a yellow metal "flag". The route numbers that stop there are marked on the flag, generally accompanied by the destinations. These signs are usually in Hebrew and English, but on opposite sides of the sign. Sometimes, though, the English version is incomplete. All bus stops have their ID number (5 digits) written at the top of the yellow sign, to identify your location with phone hotlines and some smartphone apps. You may also find route maps posted on the wall of the stop shed. If you need help reading this information, don't be shy to ask other passengers.

Intercity buses will refuse to pick up passengers if they are completely full (no more than 10 standing passengers), so be wary if you are planning interchanges at limited service junctions in the middle of nowhere. Be wary of waiting at the correct stops: buses will refuse to board you, even if they stopped to alight a passenger - if the specific stop that you are trying to wait on, is designated as alighting only for that line. If you are already on the bus, be aware that you are not supposed to get off at a stop that is designated as boarding only (such as a bus station boarding platform stop, which follow the alighting platform stop).

Many bus stops have real-time arrival info screens. Real-time info can also be found in apps such as Moovit and EfoBus.

By Internet and smartphoneEdit

Most companies provide information on the Internet, but like other aspects of their service, the quality varies greatly.

  • Google Maps provide trip planning.
  • Ministry of Transportation ("Call-Kav", Bus.gov.il), +972 8 6831610 (or *8787). Call center hours: Sa-Th 07:00-23:00, Friday 08:00-15:00, Saturday 30 minutes after end of Shabbat to 23:00. You can send an SMS message (Hebrew-only) to 8787. This service is run by the Israeli Ministry of Transport, and provides information for all bus and train routes in the country. This is the most useful and authoritative information center.
  • Bus.co.il. This privately run site is intuitive and can be used in English. However, its information is unofficial and its schedule information might be less reliable than the official sites. Its call center has a premium-rate number (1-900, ₪2 per min.)
  • Egged, +972 3 694-8888 (or *2800 in Israel). Call Center: Su-Th 06:30-21:00, F 07:30-15:00, Sa from end of Shabbat to 23:00. The official site of Israel's largest bus operator. Works great for its own routes, but does not provide information about other companies' routes. Hebrew and English.    
  • Jerusalem transportation planner. Provides comprehensive information and trip planning for Jerusalem alone. This is an official site and is reliable. Hebrew and English.
  • EfoBus. Privately run website with online information for the arrival of buses to stations. Can be used with the 5-digit station code, that is on every station's "Yellow Flag", and may also be used as an app for tracking real-time arrival times for your stop, and for trip planning.
  • Moovit. Privately run public transportation app. Probably the best smartphone app. Provides real-time bus arrival times for your stop, and trip planning.    
  • Use the call centers of each bus company, listed in the beginning of this article.

Night buses and trainsEdit

Kavey Layla (Night routes). These are night bus services centered on the large metropolitan areas, with lines extending even to Tiberias and Arad. Routes are aimed at young people seeking entertainment, who might otherwise drive drunk or not be able to go out at all. Night buses are typically operated by the regular bus operator in each region, but have distinct numbers and routes. Operating days and times vary by route, but routes typically only run on weekends (Thursday to Sunday nights), and some routes only operate during summer or school breaks. The official website for this service contains information in Hebrew. Information in English can be found at each bus company's website or in transit planning apps.    

Most trains stop operating at night. The line serving Nahariyya to Ben Gurion Airport, and one line along the Southern Coastal Plain to Beer Sheva, do operate during the night. Night routes are less frequent than day routes and skip some stations.

AmenitiesEdit

Due to the relatively short bus journeys, there are no toilets on buses in Israel. Toilets are available in all central bus stations. Routes that take longer than about 3 hours, such as Tel Aviv to Tiberias or Kiryat Shmona, make a 10-minute rest stop in the middle of the route, where toilets are available. There are two stops on routes to Eilat.

Intercity buses have a baggage compartment underneath where you can store your bags while traveling. You can also store a bicycle there. City buses do not have a baggage compartment, and it is forbidden to bring non-foldable bikes aboard. Trains take bicycles free of charge (outside rush hour), and there are numbers at the doors indicating how many bikes will fit on each carriage. Israel Railways plans to forbid carrying bikes aboard altogether, so check before traveling.

The bus driver will often have the radio playing, even late at night. Many drivers object to cell phone conversations being held behind their seats.

Trains do have accessible toilets.

Haredi-oriented linesEdit

 
Gender-segregated bus stop in Beit Shemesh

Often, separate bus routes serve centers of Israel's Haredi (ultra-Orthodox Jews) population. This community is relatively poor, but well-organized, so they use public transportation at very high rates and get extra routes customized to meet their needs.

On these routes, passengers may self-segregate, with men sitting in the front of the bus and women in the back. When you get on a bus in Haredi areas, you may choose to follow the lead of the passengers who are already on it, or insist on your legal right to sit where you please. It is illegal for any passenger to tell another passenger where they may sit; the bus driver is obligated to assist in these situations.

It is considered polite not to sit next to a stranger of the opposite sex if there are other available seats. If you do sit next to a Haredi member of the opposite sex, they may get up and move to a different seat or else stand.

An advantage of intercity Haredi routes is that they typically make many stops in each city's Haredi neighborhoods, rather than just the central bus station. (This often saves a local bus ride at the end of trip, especially useful very late at night when local buses have stopped operating. But it makes the routes slower.) A disadvantage is that they often operate less frequently, so check the schedule first. They often operate at times other buses do not, especially early morning and late at night.

Haredi-oriented routes can often be identified by their terminus. For example, most intercity Haredi routes in Jerusalem begin and end their route at Har Hotzvim/Atirot Mada rather than the Central Bus Station.

Stay safeEdit

City buses and bus stops were frequently the targets of suicide bombers in the 1990s and early 2000s. Though this hasn't happened in many years now, it is still a risk one should be aware of. If you see anyone acting suspiciously, or discover an unattended object, immediately notify the driver, a soldier, or a police officer. If you can, avoid standing in large crowds of people in order to further minimize any risk.

Buses that travel into the West Bank are often armored to protect against shooting or rock-throwing attacks.

If you're waiting at a bus stop with multiple routes, stick out a hand/finger (also the Israeli hitchhiking sign) to flag down the driver as the bus approaches. If the driver doesn't realize you're waiting for that particular bus, you may get passed by completely. Do not wave, some drivers think that means you don't want that particular bus. If there's a large crowd to get on the bus, don't be afraid to assert yourself firmly (but not impolitely) when people try to push ahead of you.

If you want the driver to tell you your stop, it is best to be clear about it. If you just tell the driver where you want to go, he may ask you at the following stop why you didn't get off. Also, he might forget, so it is often better to ask the passengers.

While Israeli manners may be rougher than in some other countries, they are also more likely to actually help you, with several people debating the best route for you.

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