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.
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 “Egged” and “Dan” used to be the dominant operators, but they have been replaced by other companies in an effort to increase competition.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:
- Egged (pronounced “Eh-ged”), ☏+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 Sabbath to 23:00. The largest company in Israel and the world’s second largest bus company. It operates intercity and urban bus service in many parts of the country, including Jerusalem and Haifa. Despite a reduction in its network, it still operates about 60% of bus service in Israel. Has a call center service in English, Hebrew and Russian
- Dan, ☏+972 3 639-4444 (or *3456 in Israel). Call center: Su-Th 07:00-21:00, F 07:00-13:00, Sa 18:00-22:00. Computer service available 24/7. The second largest company in Israel and the principal operator within the metropolitan Tel Aviv area (Gush Dan). Call center languages: Hebrew, English, Russian and Spanish
- Metropoline, ☏+972 73 2100422 (or *5900 in Israel), fax: +972 73 2634938, ✉firstname.lastname@example.org. Call center: 24/7 (except on Shabbat). The call center message is in Hebrew only, but dial 7 for service by agent and you’ll be served in English and possibly other languages. Operates intercity lines to Beer Sheva and the Negev (with the notable exception of Eilat), urban and suburban lines in northern Dan region (aka the southern Sharon), and lines from Netanya to Tel Aviv.
- Afikim, ☏+972 54 6600088 (online info service in Hebrew and Russian only. Dial *6686 from any Israel phone). Call center hours: 24 hours a day (except on Shabbat). Initial response is in Hebrew only, but dial *7 for service by agent and you’ll be served in English and possibly other languages. Operates lines radiating from Ashdod, Yavne, Petah Tikva, Rosh HaAyin, Ariel and Samaria region.
- Egged Ta’avura (Egged Transport), ☏+972 3 7350100, fax: +972 3 6340845. Operates lines in Netanya, Mevaseret Zion, Ma’ale Adumim and the West Bank.
- Superbus, ☏+972 8 9205005, fax: +972 73 2226135, ✉email@example.com. Call center hours: Su-Th 07:00-22:00, F 08:00-14:00, Sa 19:30-22:00. Operates lines in Beit Shemesh, Yokneam, Tiberias, Lower Galilee and the Afula region.
- Nateev Express, ☏1-599-559559 (premium or *3553 in Israel), fax: +972 4 6463804. Operates lines in Upper Galilee.
- Nazareth United Bus Services, ☏1-599-559559 (premium or *3553 in Israel), fax: +972 4 6464007. Operate lines in Nazareth region.
- Nazareth Travel and Tourism, ☏1-599-559559 (premium or *3553 in Israel), fax: +972 4 6414716. Also operate lines in Nazareth region.
- Kavim, ☏+972 3 7732060 (or *2060 in Israel), fax: +972 3 5570610, +972 2 5480490 (for El’ad , Modi’in Ilit and Beitar Illit only). Operates urban lines in Kiryat Ono region in Gush Dan, Ramla, Lod, Modi’in, regional lines in Netanya and Hadera. Kavim also operates lines to Beitar Illit under the Illit brand.
- Dan BaDarom (Dan South), ☏+972 8 9172200 (press * after the recorded message or dial *5467 in Israel), ✉firstname.lastname@example.org. Operates lines in the Northern Negev.
- Dan Beersheva, ☏+ 972 72 2742223 (or *3527 in Israel), fax: +972 8 9550864, ✉email@example.com. Su-W 05:30-01:00, Th-F from 05:30 including F overnight and until an hour before Shabat. Operates urban lines in Beer Sheva.
- Dan BaTzafon (Dan North), ☏+ 972 4 6250777, fax: +972 4 6250736, ✉firstname.lastname@example.org. Operates the Metronit BRT lines in Haifa.
- Golan Heights Regional Council (Rama Public Transportation Golan), ☏+ 972 4 6969701, fax: +972 4 6961535, ✉email@example.com. Operates urban and regional lines in Golan Heights.
- Galeem (Narkis Gal Services), ☏+ 972 8 6688700 (extension 2), fax: +972 8 6512441, ✉Galeemnarkis@gmail.com. Operates urban lines in Rahat.
- GB Tours, ☏+ 972 4 6036100. Operates some of the regional lines in Haifa region.