As of January 2019, Israel made a change to remove cash from bus transportation and use the Rav-Kav card exclusively. Like many metropolis cities, reloadable bus cards are used to encourage safety and efficiency when traveling. Now that drivers do not need to be preoccupied with handling cash and giving change to passengers, they can keep their eyes on the road, where they should be. Here is everything you need to know about using the Rav-Kav when using the bus in Israel.
What is a Rav-Kav?
A Rav-Kav is an electronic ticket used on public transport in Israel which can be loaded using cash or credit card. The Rav-Kav can be used with both bus and train transportation in Israel. The Rav-Kav card is much more convenient as it means travelers do not need to worry about carrying cash.
Rav-Kavs have two categories, including a personalized card and an anonymous card. Local Israelis use personalized cards that include their name and photo on the card, and any relevant information about their status, for example, student or senior. For travelers, an anonymous card is advisable.
Where to buy a Rav-Kav?
For travelers looking to purchase anonymous Rav-Kavs, there are several designated locations around Tel Aviv including all of the Tel Aviv train stations, the Central Bus Station (level 6) and in the arrivals hall of Ben Gurion Airport. To purchase a Rav-Kav is 5 nis.
How do you load money onto a Rav-Kav?
Money can then be loaded onto the Rav Kav at the same train and bus station locations where the card is purchased. Additionally, there are several places throughout the city where Rav-Kavs can be loaded. Super Pharm, Good Pharm, and other convenience stores and kiosks can all load Rav-kavs, as well as Tzomet Sfarim (Book store). There are also recharging stations near Tel-O-fun bike stations. It is important to note that for the self-serve loading the instructions are in Hebrew, so it may be advisable to go to a shop where the clerk will manually assist with loading the money on the Rav-Kav card.
Can the Rav-Kav card be charged on the bus or with the driver?
No. While this was allowed in the past, the driver can no longer take cash or load any payment onto the Rav-Kav card.
Alternative to using the Rav-Kav
While it is the simplest and most advisable way to use public transportation in Israel with the Rav-Kav, travelers may also want to use an English app called HopOn. The app is free to download and uses a QR code which can be scanned on the bus instead of the Rav-Kav card. Payment is done through the app using a credit card. This app can only be used with a smartphone and uses data to operate.
Other helpful Apps for using the Bus in Israel
In addition to the HopOn app, which offers real-time bus info, another helpful bus app is called Moovit. Moovit helps plan routes, provides up to date bus information and gives a helpful ring when your stop is approaching while riding the bus, using real-time tracking. It can be difficult for travelers to use, since although the app is in English, many times the street names are only listed in Hebrew.