Public transit in Israel

Buses are the most common form of public transportation for Israelis and foreign visitors 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, unfortunately 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, and it is strongly advised for any traveler to Israel to get a Rav-Kav. Ideally already at Ben Gurion Airport.

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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 “Egged” and “Dan” used to be the dominant operators, but they have been replaced by other companies in an effort to increase competition.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 whereas 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

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