Bus travel in Israel

Buses are the most common form of public transportation for Israelis and foreign visitors alike. There are several bus companies in Israel, including:

Israeli buses with several types of coloring

The bus transport system is undergoing changes in recent years, as Egged and Dan were phased out of many of their former routes to be replaced by other companies. In general, the new companies offer cheaper fares than the two old companies, which were the only operators for most of the country's history. The quality of service of the new companies varies from very good to poor, not only between companies but also between regions of the same company (for example, Connex's service in the Ashdod region is considered very good, but its service in Modi'in gets low marks).

Fares and tickets

Single ride

Fares are considerably lower than most Western European and North American countries. A single urban ride cost around ₪6.40 in most metropolitan areas, but could be as low as ₪3 in smaller cities. Intercity fares don't follow a nationwide fare system, so you can find significant differences between journeys of similar length. The most expensive journey is between Haifa and Eilat, that cost 80NIS one way.

Tickets can be bought from drivers on the bus or at ticket booths in terminals. Offering the exact fare is not necessary, since drivers or cashiers will give change for notes up to 10 times the fare (so you can use ₪50 note for city rides worth ₪6.40, ₪100 notes for fares over ₪10, ₪200 notes for fares over ₪20). Payment by credit card is accepted at ticket booths for fares over ₪22.

In general, journeys with connections require separate tickets for each segment - although most metropolitan areas (Haifa, Jerusalem and the entire Tel Aviv area) now feature transfer tickets (Kartis Hemshekh or Kartis Ma'avar). The transfer tickets are usually valid from anywhere between one and two hours, depending on the city.

Multiple rides

Multi-ride tickets, giving reduction of 15-20%, are available in the form of two-ride (or return) tickets and so-called Kartisiya for 5 to 20 journeys with the same fare on the same company. These multi-ride tickets can be used by several passengers. Daily passes (Hofshi Yomi) are available in some cities, including Tel Aviv, and there is a wide range of monthly passes (Hofshi Hodshi) designed for commuters. Recently, Egged and Dan introduced a new ticket for students of unlimited travel for the entire semester or academic year that costs ₪500-1000 (or twice as much for an entire academic year) depending on the zones included in the pass.

Reservation is available only for buses to/from Eilat, and can be done at a ticket booth, by phone or internet or text message.

The public transport reforms started in "Gush Dan" and it includes the Dan, Egged, Metropline and Kavim companies. The area is divided to 3 zones:

Zone and inter-zone fares:

You can use the amount of money that you charge on the Rav-Kav card for all 4 companies, but only on the mentioned areas. As mentioned above, on other parts of the country you still need to separately charge the card for each company (including the companies that participate in this reform).


Rav-Kav reader machine, with the Rav-Kav logo

Rav-Kav is a smart card, used for payment for public transport in Israel. It integrates the payment system for the train and bus companies in the country thus simplifying the use of public transport and to replace paper tickets.

The card can be charged with pay as you go credit and with special fare cards (called contracts) like a daily or monthly pass or a multi-ride ticket.

It can be obtained at service points throughout the country (most central bus stations and terminals will have one) and usually it will be issued free of charge (provided you charge it with credit). The card can be charged at any service point or by the bus driver, there is a 20% discount for each charge (by adding 25% to the amount of money that was charged).

In most parts of the country the card must be charged separately for each company so a service point or a driver of one company cannot charge the card for another company and the money that you charge for one company cannot be used with a different company. In case of a card problem you must contact the company that issued the card.

There are 2 types of cards:

An anonymous card that can be charged with money or with some special fare products (like a regular multi-ride). This card can be obtained for ₪5 from bus drivers during the ride.
Includes the passenger's details and photo. This type is obligatory for some special fare cards, like the daily and monthly pass or for receiving a youth, student or senior citizen discount. A registered card is insured for loss or theft. The passenger's usage history will be recorded and saved for statistical purposes. This card can be obtained only in specific central stations.
Current problems


The level of passenger information provided by the companies varies. You should be aware that each company is responsible for information on its service, and won't help you if the service you're looking for is operated by another company (for that reason, the ministry of transportation has established a unified information center). Fellow passengers are usually very friendly and helpful (sometimes overwhelmingly so) and it is advised to ask them.

At stations and stops

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 are usually available in English, but may be arranged by Hebrew alphabet. In big terminals it might take a few minutes until you get the info you need. Newer bus stops also have "bus-stop code" (5 digits, at the top of the yellow flag). The code is usable to identify the exact stop, and for use with some smartphone apps.

In central stations you will find information booths. Those are operated by several companies in some terminals. For example, at Tel Aviv Central bus station you'll find information booths of Egged, Dan and Metropoline only.

Bus stops in cities and on the roads are marked by a yellow metal "flag". The list of route no. that stop there are marked on the flag, generally accompanied by the destinations. These signs are usually both in Hebrew and English, but on opposite sides of the sign; if you see it in Hebrew only, check the other side and you'll usually find the English version there. Sometimes, though, the English version is incomplete. You may also find route maps posted on the wall of the stop shed. If you need help reading this info or are just clueless, don't be shy to ask other passengers.

By phone and Internet

Most companies provide information by phone and Internet (on their website), but like other aspects of their service the quality varies greatly. Some companies have recently introduced real-time phone information service. Look out for this at the top or bottom of the flag at bus stops.

The Israeli Ministry of Transportation has launched a site and call center (see 'Info phone service' below) which provides information for all bus and train routes in the country: Call-Kav . This is the most useful and authoritative information center.

Public Transportation travel planning websites for Jerusalem area (Jerusalem District)

A good place to start when looking for a route is Egged's website (English), as it is Israel's largest public transportation company.

Use Bus.co.il to find schedules and line maps for all means of public transportation (including trains). You can also look for a combined route by address. The website is in Hebrew and English (BETA). Be aware that it is an unofficial website that might contain outdated information and they take no responsibility for the information provided. Also notice that their call center has a premium-rate number (1-900, 2 NIS per min.)

Info phone service


A list of bus lines found below shows some of Israel's bus lines. It is intended to be a source of information that may be hard to find on official company websites.

Currently, this section deals mainly with Egged lines; it will expand to include lines of other bus companies as well.

Intercity bus lines are classified to 3 categories: 'Regular' (me'asef), 'Express' (express), and 'Direct' (yashir).

Me'asef buses collect passengers at many stops along their route, which makes it a slow journey. (The word me'asef means collecting in Hebrew). If you're travelling between major cities, avoid these buses. On the other hand, if you're travelling to a minor destination, this may be your only option.

Express buses usually travel on long-distance routes; they might use the same route as the me'asef for certain sections (or even the entire ride), but stop at fewer stations. Express buses normally don't pick up passengers for short journeys on which a me'asef bus line is available.

Direct lines are either pure non-stop routes, or might have few stops in the cities of departure and arrival. There's no extra charge for faster buses, and in some cases they might even be cheaper than slower buses serving the same terminals.

Most intercity lines originate or end in a central bus station or terminal (CBS/CBT). The modern central bus stations built in the last 2 decades often combine bus terminal and shopping center in one building. CBS of this type include those of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa Hof HaCarmel, Rishon LeZion, Ashdod and Rehovot.

Bus lines are designated by a 1- to 3-digit number. Urban and suburban lines usually have 1 or 2 digits, while intercity lines normally have 3 digits. There are exceptions, like intercity lines with 2 digits (those might have a preceding 0 to make it 3 digits), or suburban lines with 3 digits (the 1st digit may be 1 or 2, but not higher). The last digit of intercity lines often suggests its category. The fastest routes usually have digit 0 or 5, while the digits 1 and 3 are associated with slow lines. Digits 2, 4, 6 and 9 are usually express lines.

For example: There are no less than 7 lines connecting Tel Aviv and Beer Sheva. 2 lines are direct: 370 from Tel Aviv CBS and 380 from Tel Aviv 2000 Terminal. 369 and 369א are both express lines, terminating at CBS and 2000 terminal respectively. Lines 351, 353 and 371 are regular (me'asef) lines, going in different routes (351 via Rehovot and Sderot, 353 via Yavne and Sderot, and 371 via Rehovot and Kiryat Gat), and should be avoided unless your destination isn't served by a faster line. 369 and 371 travel the same route between Gedera junction and Kama junction, but the former has fewer stops, except in late evening when 371 is not operating, and 369 becomes a regular bus south of Kiryat Mal'akhi (stops north of Kiryat Mal'akhi are served by 301 Tel Aviv-Ashkelon line).

Night buses

There is night bus service in the Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa metropolitan areas. Night buses are operated by the regular bus operators, but have distinct numbers and routes. Operating days are Thursdays' and Saturdays' nights, but expect night-lines to run during holidays (non-sabbatical holidays days and sometimes the night following the sabbatical holidays) and in the summer weekdays as well. The official night bus website contains information in Hebrew. Information in English can be found at the Egged and Dan official websites.

Mehadrin lines

Haredi, or mehadrin routes serve centers of Israel's Orthodox population, a portion of which have strict rules limiting contact between men and women. Anyone can take these routes, but you are expected to observe certain rules of conduct. Men and women are segregated, usually men sit in the front half of the bus and women sit in the back half, and go in and out through the back door. If you want to sit mixed, do it in the middle. Women especially should dress conservatively (no bare legs or shoulders, and definitely not bare belly). A court case ruled that these lines were legal, but that the aforementioned rules must be entirely voluntary; despite this, it may not be safe to break them.

Advantages of these routes are that they go to each city's main religious neighborhoods, not just the central bus station. (This often saves a local bus ride at the end on trip, especially useful very late at night when local buses have stopped running.) Also, they are cheaper than regular buses (due to generally being fuller). A disadvantage is that they often run very infrequently, so check the schedule first. However, they often run at times other buses do not, especially late at night.

The routes can usually be identified by their endpoints: Har Hotzvim in Jerusalem, and Bnei Brak in the Tel Aviv area, rather than the normal central bus stations.


Due to the relatively short bus journeys, there are no toilets on buses in Israel, and no "frills" at all. It's best advised to check in advance for stops along the route, and/or empty prior to taking the bus. Toilets are available on all central bus stations. Long-distance routes, such as Tel Aviv to Tiberias or Kiryat Shmona in the Galilee, make a stop of 10 minutes at designated places, where toilet is available. There are two stops on routes to Eilat. However, if you are desperate for a bathroom break you can ask the driver and he might let you go at the side of the road (particularly when the next stop is a long way away).

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

If you want to have the heat or air conditioning adjusted, or have the radio adjusted - just ask the driver. Of course, this goes both ways.

Stay safe

Without being unduly alarmist, it bears mentioning that intra-city buses and bus stops were unfortunately the targets of suicide bombers in the 1990s and early 2000s. If you see anyone acting suspiciously, or discover an unattended parcel, notify the driver, a soldier or police officer immediately. If you can, avoid standing in large crowds of people in order to further minimize any risk. For the last few years, however, the number of suicide attacks on buses has steadily declined, and the last suicide attack on a bus was 2 years ago.

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 he or she 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.



Tel Aviv



271 Haganah Train Station St., Hamasger St., Menachem Begin Road, Azrieli Center, Central Railway, Kibbutzim, at Tel Aviv University


Note: This listing is incomplete or outdated. It contains several Egged routes and some routes operated by other companies, but lacks many others. If possible, contact the bus operator (for Egged routes visit their website or call *2800). Note: buses that travel into the West Bank are often armored to be bullet proof.

From/To Jerusalem

Note: Most buses which leave from Jerusalem Har Chotzvim are mehadrin buses, with the men and women sitting separately.

From/To Tel Aviv



From Cairo to Jerusalem

To take the bus from Cairo to Israel, buy a ticket from Turgomen Garage (metro stop Orabi) to Taba. There are three buses a day, at 6AM, 9:30AM, and 10:15PM, costing 70LE (except the night bus - 80LE) as of 12/2008, run by the East Delta Travel company. You need to buy a ticket at least one day in advance. Once you get to the bus station, someone should know which bus you take - it's not a big bus station. The Turgomen Garage is recently renovated and the buses leave from a concourse in the basement. The signs are all in English and Arabic. Take either the escalator or the elevators downstairs to find your bus. Do not plan for the bus to depart on time.

Once on board, the bus takes about an hour to even leave Cairo and stops at two other suburban bus stations. On leaving, it will be more full than when it left Turgomen, but may be quite empty depending upon the season and economic climate. Note, that there were almost no women, and the few that were there traveled with their husbands. Be warned: the buses are somewhat unreliable. The one I took stopped for an hour by the side of the road, with the engine (and therefore a/c) off, before the driver got back on and we continued. Another traveler said that on a return trip, the bus broke down five times!

Make sure you take food and plenty of water with you, although the bus will make a stop about 3/4 of the way to Taba at a desert roadhouse, where there is a toilet and small cafe. It also stops at various army bases, depending on the bus, to deliver water and newspapers to the soldiers.

On the approach to Taba, the bus will skirt the airport (which has very few flights) and then descend the mountain road for about 15 minutes. It will stop at the bottom and someone will check passports (can be time consuming when many Arab League citizens are on board), then turn left along the coast road. Finally, it will stop at the "Taba Bus Station", a gravel area with a bus office, with bus times in the window. Get off here, the bus continues on from Taba down the coast to Nuweiba. People will try to get you into a taxi to take you to the border, but don't bother unless you have great difficulty walking, as it is literally less than 500m down the road.

At the border, you have to buy an exit stamp from the Egyptian border guards for 2LE (as of 12/2008); they don't always have change if you arrive early in the day. You then walk to the next building, the air conditioned departure hall, where your bags are scanned, then there's a little food / drink / cigarette kiosk, and then the passport control desk, where you give the card with the departure stamp to the border guard. He then stamps your passport, and you are out of Egypt. Beware: if you plan to reenter Egypt at Taba later, you cannot do so unless you already have a multiple entry visa or you get a 51.25 LE reentry visa (just a stamp in your passport) before you leave; Egypt does not issue visas valid for travel outside the Sinai Peninsula upon entry at Taba.

A few yards further on you get to a duty free shop, then the Israeli building, with cool water mist spray coming from the ceiling of the path shade outside. On entry, again your stuff is scanned, then you queue for immigration. Unlike arriving in Israel by air, here you shouldn't be delayed for more than five minutes of questions. They weren't even put off by me saying I didn't know where I was staying, that I'd find somewhere in the town (of Eilat)!

Once you leave the building you are in Israel proper. To change money, there is a bank in the Israeli departure side (where you have to pay a departure tax for leaving Israel, should you exit by this crossing.) There are hourly buses to the town (Line 15, 6.5 NIS), but the last leaves at 18.20. Taxis will be waiting, charging about 35NIS to go to town. Be warned that Israel is more of a Western country, with corresponding prices - i.e. much more than Egypt, and marginally more expensive than the UK, for things like eating out.

There are plenty of hostels in Eilat, from the bus station uphill, the 2nd and 3rd streets on the right have plenty advertising dorm beds for $8, but may only have private rooms for between 100 and 150NIS (about £15). Ideally you should book in advance, or go to the bus station and buy a ticket to Jerusalem (I think there are hourly buses taking about 4 1/2 hrs and costing 70NIS or 63 with student discount) or Tel Aviv. The Jerusalem bus, number 444, runs alongside the Dead Sea, so you get to see that, and on leaving the area, you see a sign on the roadside pointing out "Sea Level". And even though this route goes through the West Bank, you see no sign of anything different - no towns, villages, mosques, differences in road signs or markings or anything.

On arrival in Jerusalem, you have to get your luggage scanned when you get off the bus, then once on the street outside the bus station (on Jaffa Rd) you can get a local bus (6.60NIS) to the Old City, or walk the 3 km or so (as I did). I stayed in the Petra Hostel, right by Jaffa Gate, which was cheap but rather dirty. I think the term is "has character" - the building has probably been there for centuries. There are many other cheap hostels (around 25 NIS for dorm bed) next to the Damascus gate of the old city. In many hostels you may sleep on the roof deck for a discounted price. Be warned in the old city, that the hagglers are like those in the Cairo bazaar. Ignoring them seems to be the only way.

One word of warning for travelers who regularly visit other Arab states. Some take a dim view of an Israeli visa stamp in the passport and it has been known for some to be refused entry. It is best to check this if you are traveling onwards to some of these more sensitive countries. Israeli visa issues - check here

From Jerusalem to Cairo

You can take the same route as described above, using the following bus schedule:

1. Take bus 444 from Jerusalem direct to Eilat, through the West Bank. Buses leave regularly between 7AM or at 5PM (Definite Morning times are 7AM, 10AM, 2PM and 5PMM as of December 30, 2011. You should check the Schedule Information online, as the bus company ("Egged") has an official homepage.) If you take a later bus you will have to sleep over-night in Eilat. Arrival is about 5 hours after departure. Price is 75NIS, 10% off for students.

2. If you slept over night in Eilat, then take a taxi to the border crossing (around 30NIS), so you will arrive there latest at 5:45AM. If you took the morning bus, take local bus 15 from Eilat's bus station, leaving every full hour (take the 2PM bus latest) to Taba's border crossing (7.5NIS).

3. Cross the border (you remembered to get an Egyptian visa in advance, right? Available from the Egyptian consulate in Eilat or the embassy in Tel Aviv) and after you finished crossing (and paying the Israelis 96NIS "border tax"), ignore all the taxi drivers and walk on the sidewalk on the left side of the road for 300m, till the bus station. Not having a visa in advance is expensive! the stamp for the passport cost $15, but you will be required to provide a "guarantee" from an official travel agent. These "travel agents" wait around and charge $50 (!!) per person for an handwritten paper that they give to the immigration officer. Without the guarantee letter - the passport will not be stamped and you will be sent back to Eilat.

4. There is a bus by East Delta to Cairo at 6:30AM (if you slept in Eilat) or at 4:30PM (if you took the morning bus). Buy it from the cashier (around 80EGP, 30/12/11), and wait for the bus a while, since it's usually late. The bus will stop 20m after the bus station, and you will have to pay 75EGP "tourist tax"............ Update as of 10May09...first bus to Cairo on a Sunday is at 1030 not 0630 and fare is 70EGP. There are 10 pgr minivans that make the run 'non-scheduled' and you can negotiate the fare but be prepared for no 'rest' stops...only to drop off or pick up passengers along the way. Their destination in Cairo is not the central bus station but you can get a taxi from there.

5. You will arrive in Abbasyia terminal in Cairo. If you take a taxi, do not take it from any of the touts that bother you in the exit! You can hail one yourself very easily, it shouldn't be more than 10EGP till the city center. Else you can take a microbus to Tahrir square from across the street (1.5EGP).


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