Using the Bus and Rail in Jerusalem

Using the bus and light rail in Jerusalem are two very convenient ways to get around the city. Information is generally in Hebrew and English. But it can sometimes be confusing with so many different routes and ticket options available. That’s why we created this guide to getting around Jerusalem using the bus and rail.

Basics of Riding the Bus

A typical Egged bus in Jerusalem

Buses in Jerusalem are all run by the company Egged. Their buses are mostly green, although some are white with red stripes. Egged run a very large route network which is centered around the Jerusalem Central Bus Station and the center of town (the area around King George and Jaffa Streets). There are a large number of routes which duplicate each other through the city center, however spread out when you get outside. That means that if you wanted to travel from, say, the Central Bus Station to Keren Hayesod Street, there is a choice of five or six high-frequency routes. The standard bus fare in Jerusalem is 5.90 NIS for a single trip.

Paying for the Bus and Light Rail

It is no longer possible to buy a paper ticket on the bus in Israel. Paper tickets have now completely been replaced by the ‘Rav Kav’ with a smartcard chip. The card needs to be bought and loaded prior to the bus ride. You can buy a daily, weekly, or monthly ticket or with any sum of money sufficient to cover the bus ride.

‘Rav Kav’ smartcards are available at kiosks and other points of sale (eg. the Central Bus Station, all Cofix branches, Super-Pharm etc) throughout the city. They can be (re-)loaded at around 300 automatic machines, light rail stations, and other spots around town. You can also buy tickets digitally through the ‘Moovit’ app and scan a QR code on the busses to pay for your trip.

Because Jerusalem has an ever-changing and complicated bus network, the easiest way to find your route is via the Egged website. Unlike Tel Aviv, Egged runs almost every service in Jerusalem so you only need to look there. The website is fully translated into English and provides all relevant information.

Basics of the Jerusalem Light Rail

The Jerusalem Light Railway
The Jerusalem Light Railway

The Jerusalem Light Rail (otherwise known as ‘the tram’) opened in 2011 and runs along one line between Mount Herzl and Pisgat Zeev. At Mount Herzl, Ammunition Hill, and Pisgat Zeev, there are park and ride lots. You can park and then take the Light Rail instead of driving to the city center.

Using the Jerusalem Light Rail requires you to buy a ticket before boarding the train. Tickets can be purchased at stops, and cost 5.90 NIS for a single trip. You can also use your  ‘Rav Kav’ smartcard to travel on the Light Rail.

For most people, the most useful stretch is the section that runs from the Central Bus Station to the Damascus Gate (of the Old City). It passes through Mahane Yehuda, Davidka Square, Jaffa Street, and past City Hall. At its southern terminus at Mount Herzl, you are just a few minutes from Yad Vashem which makes it a convenient way to get there.

No Public Transport runs on Shabbat

The Jerusalem bus and rail systems shut down for Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) on a Friday afternoon. Buses stop about an hour before sundown, light rail a few hours before. Service resumes after sunset on Saturday night. Likewise, buses start about an hour later, light rail a few hours later.

If your flight lands on Friday night or Saturday day and you need to get to Jerusalem, you can book a shuttle from the airport to Jerusalem here.

During this time, there is no public transportation in Jerusalem. Using the bus and light rail in Jerusalem on Shabbat is not possible. Please read this dedicated article for more information on Shabbat in Jerusalem.

Alternatives to Public Transport in Jerusalem

It can be confusing to deal with public transport as a tourist in Israel, especially when you want to get out the city. Why not book an affordable inter-city shuttle service? That way, you can spend less time navigating the bus lines and more time enjoying Israel!

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