Using the bus & light rail in Jerusalem are two very convenient ways to get around the city. Whilst information is generally in Hebrew and English, it can sometimes be confusing with so many different routes and ticket options available so we created this guide to getting around the city using the bus and light rail in Jerusalem.
Basics of the bus in Jerusalem
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. As of June 1st 2018, it is not possible anymore to buy a ticket directly on the bus. Paper tickets have now completely been replaced by the ‘Rav Kav’ smartcard with a smartcard chip. The card needs to be bought and loaded prior to the bus ride with either a daily, weekly or monthly ticket or with a sum of money, which is sufficient to cover the bus ride.
‘Rav Kav’ smartcards are available for a price of 5 NIS at kiosks and other points of sale (eg. the Central Bus Station, all Cofix branches, etc.) throughout the city and can be (re-)loaded at around 300 automatic machines, light rail stations, and other spots around town.
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 run 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 Jeruasalem 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 where 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) – through Mahane Yehuda, Davidka Square, Jaffa Street, and past City Hall. At it’s southern terminus at Mount Herzl, you are just a few minutes from Yad Vashem which makes it a convenient way to get here.
Jerusalem Bus and Light Rail on Shabbat
The Jerusalem bus and light rail system shuts down for Shabbat on a Friday afternoon (buses stop about 30 minutes before sundown, light rail a few hours before), and resumes after sunset on Saturday night (likewise, buses start about 30 minutes later, light rail a few hours later). During this time, there is no public transportation in Jerusalem, so using the bus and light rail in Jerusalem on Shabbat is not possible.