Your Guide to Public Transportation in Israel – Part 1

Israel is a wonderful country to try your hand at using public transportation. This tiny country can be crossed in less than 10 hours of sleeping on a bus.

Not only is public transportation spread out from north to south, but the ever-growing number of companies serving the public ensures relatively cheap prices.

Following you will find the public transportation opportunities available to you in Israel.

Using public transportation frees you up to enjoy the view

 

BUSES

Believe it or not, more than 10 companies operate public buses in Israel. If you spend some time in Tel-Aviv when you first arrive in the country, you’ll hear about 5 of them at best. However, some smaller companies provide service to areas in northern and southern Israel, and if you plan on reaching either of these areas, it’s probably important to know this.

Pros of using buses: They’re Israel’s most reliable form of public transportation, and you can check schedules in advance on companies’ websites.

Cons of using buses: They’re not flexible and won’t stop anywhere you’d like. Drivers get fined if they pick up or drop off people away from stations, and sometimes this means even an inch away from the station. Some companies’ managers supervise this more than others, so drivers will be more flexible than others, but it’s not something to count on.

Also, with rare exceptions, buses don’t operate from late Friday afternoons to Saturday evenings. A law in Israel prohibits work on Saturdays, since it is the week’s holiest day, and companies that do it anyway pay a hefty fine. Every other day, buses operate during most hours, yet stand still during most of the night.

 

It's rare to see red chairs on a public bus, they're usually saved for tourism purposes, so of course I photographed.

 

Egged: It is the most known bus company in Israel, and for good reason. According to its website, Egged provides 55% of the public bus service of the country. You can find their buses throughout most of the country.

Use its online information service to locate your bus route or get information on a specific bus route.

Customer service and phone information: *2800 from any phone, or 052-9992800. Once the automatic navigation system answers you, press 3 for English (or 2 for Russian). If you’re calling ahead of your visit, call 972-3-6948888 from abroad. Note that you can get information 24/7, yet if you want to talk to a human being, you’ll need to call during Israel’s daylight hours.

Wondering what time is it in Israel right now? Write Israel in this search box. You can also write an area’s dialing code to find the current hour, just make sure you look at the entire page. If you type 972 – Israel’s area code – you’ll discover we share it with…. Texas.

Text messages: This only works in Hebrew, and will likely not work outside the country, yet the service is available 24/7. The number to contact is 2800. You can get information for up to seven days in advance, yet if you don’t detail the date and time you’re inquiring about, you’ll get information of the next few buses.

The system only replies for text messages of up to 70 words. Anything beyond that won’t be treated – yet will be charged anyway. The cost is 1 shekel (approximately 25 US cents) total for 1 question + 1 answer. Any followup question (and answer) will cost another shekel. Either way, as written before, it only works in Hebrew.

 

Dan buses

 

Dan: Providing public transportation services since 1909, Dan buses serve the Dan area, also known as the Tel-Aviv metropolitan area. This includes Tel-Aviv and its surrounding cities. It also operates a bus route between Jerusalem and the mostly-ultra-religious Bnei Brak.

The company’s website allows you to find buses that connect one place to another, find time tables for bus lines according to the date and time, and review the stations each bus line goes through. For quick bus information, check out the website’s home page.

Customer service and phone information: Call *3456 or 03-6394444. You can reach a human voice on:

Sun-Thurs: 05:30-24:00 (Sunday is the first day of the week in Israel)

Fri and holiday eves: 06:00-15:00

On Saturdays and the last day of a holiday: from the time Saturday/holiday ends (an hour or two after it is dark outside) to 24:00

All other times, you can get an automatic answering machine that details bus routes.

E-mail: Get information on Dan bus lines by contacting information@dan.co.il .

 

Kavim: Dan’s sister company operates in central and northern Israel. Its website doesn’t offer information in English, so it’s best to call the company’s customer service. Here, too, you will find an automatic answering machine that can provide you with information 24/7. If, however, you rather talk to a human being, call during these hours:

Sun-Thurs: 07:00-23:00

Fri: 07:00-13:00

Sat: 19:00-23:00

Phone number: 03-6066055

Fax number: The website states that you may inquire about bus routes and lines via fax as well, so if you have a fax – send your questions to 03-5570610.

 

Metropoline: Metropolitan was the first company to provide free WiFi in Israeli buses, and this service can now be found on a 150 of its buses. It operates in central Israel (including the Sharon region between Tel-Aviv and northern Israel) and parts of the south. Once again, the website is only in Hebrew, yet fortunately there are additional ways to get information.

Phone number: *5900 or 073-2100422 => 24/7.

E-mail address: info@metropoline.com

Fax number: 08-6232032

 

White and orange - Nateev Express. The green buses behind - Egged.

 

Nateev Express: This company took over a popular Egged line and caused a major decrease in my transportation costs to campus and back right when it seemed as if prices will never stop going up. I was sure that at the rate we were going, I’d end up spending more on a bus ride to work than the hourly price I made – and Nateev Express saved the day.

This company operates lines that connect Tel-Aviv with HaSharon region, as well as serves parts of Northern Israel. It doesn’t have a website in English, yet its website declares a 24/7 customer service.

Customer service: 1-599-559-559

 

Nazareth Transport & Tourism: The company, which was founded in the 1920s and once offered bus lines between Israel and Jordan, is now run by the third and fourth generations of the founding family. Currently, it serves northern Israel. Their website is in Hebrew, and as Nateev Express’ sister company, it shares a phone number with it:

Customer service: 1-599-559-559

 

Nazareth United Buses: The company connects the cities of Nazareth and Nazareth Illit (Upper Nazareth) with their surrounding northern Israel areas. The difference between the cities is that Nazareth mostly has an Arab population, whereas Nazareth Illit was founded in order to drive Jewish population. It doesn’t change the fact that this company’s website is only in Hebrew, like the rest of the smaller public transportation companies.

Customer service: 1-599-559-559 – the same as the two above.

 

Omni Express: Operates approximately 40 bus lines in northern Israel. Their customer service phone number is the same as the last three.

 

Here I am pretending to drive a Dan bus. The bold, black letters above my head spell "Jerusalem".

 

Veolia: A worldwide provider of 30,000 buses and 3500 trains across more than a 100 different countries, Veolia operates over a hundred lines throughout Israel – north, central and south. It has a website in English which doesn’t provide any route information, so go ahead and call their 24/7 automatic answer-giving machine.

Customer service: *6686 or 0529996686.

To reach a human, call during these hours:

Sun-Thurs: Humans are available for 24 hours.

Fri: 06:00-19:00

Sat: Starting after dark.

 

Golan Public Transportation: The company serves the Golan area in northern Israel, where local government took things to its own hands – while collaborating with the national government – to improve the public transportation in the region. It operates 17 new buses and 6 tiny buses (their Hebrew website‘s words, not mine).

The company doesn’t have an English website or a phone number, nor could I find a phone number in the phone book. If you want to travel through the Golan by public transportation, drop me an e-mail at ayelet (at) allcolores.com and I’ll help you fill the Hebrew contact form.

 

Superbus: The company was founded in 2000 when the Israeli public transportation market was about to open itself up to competition (instead of letting Egged have all the lines). The company’s buses go through more than 2000 daily rides inside and between central Israel and nearby southern cities. They might not have a website in English, yet they have two customer service phone numbers.

Customer service: 08-9205995 or 1-700-700-181.

 

Afikim: This company focused on providing shuttles for organizations and institutions, and ventured into public transportation in 2008. It serves the debatable Ariel and Shomron area, and their website is, sadly, also solely in Hebrew.

Information center: 03-5252555

 

Illit: The company’s being involved in public transportation since 2006 and its target customers are ultra-religious folks in southern Israel. Going on these buses will likely include being modestly dressed and participating in gender segregation – men in the front, women in the back of the bus. Visit their Hebrew website or call their 24/7 computer-giving information.

Customer service: 02-5807777

To talk to a human, call during these times:

Sun-Thurs: 07:00-23:00

Fri morning – starting at 07:00.

Saturday evening: from after Saturday ends (likely an hour or two after it’s dark) to 24:00.

 

Photographed through a bus window

 

Come back on Tuesday to learn about the electronic card that can save you money as you use buses, as well as about alternatives to buses on Israeli roads.

 

Do you use public transportation when you travel? How about in your home country?

 

7 Comments

  1. I had no idea there were so many bus companies in Israel. I thought Egged was the only one that offered service throughout the country, although I have traveled on Nazareth before so I was aware of their existence. I used to take Veolia all the time around Tiberias. I’m glad to know there’s a bus service dedicated to the Golan, as they really could use more public transport up there. Enlightening post!
    Sabina recently posted..Why I Prefer B&B’s to HotelsMy Profile

    • Egged is certainly the biggest and most famous one. I took Veolia for the first time this month, from Tel-Aviv to Ashdod. I can’t wait to check the Golan company out – love northern Israel!

    • Thanks Victor! Renting a car is likely the easiest option (unless you’re looking for parking in Tel-Aviv, it can get crowded there), and I wanted to give readers info on the alternatives, since there are so many 🙂

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