By Bus-Due to construction of the new Light Rail System, many local bus routes are being changed or detoured. Routes often no longer follow the same streets in both directions, and because of circuitous one-way traffic streets, the return bus route may you far from your original starting point. To find the right bus to your destination, consult with the Tourist Information Office inside Jaffa Gate, or go to www.jet.org.il/Web/En/Lines/Buses/Default.aspx. Many bus lines do not intersect with the Light Rail.
Bus drivers make change, sell single and monthly passes, and speak English.
A single full-fare city bus ticket costs NIS 6.60, but this fare is almost certain to rise. Tip: If you pay for a normal, single fare, keep the receipt the driver gives you until you exit the bus. Occasionally you may be asked to produce it as proof that you’ve paid.
There is a rambling city bus station near Damascus Gate on Nablus Road for destinations in East Jerusalem and surrounding Arabic communities.
Bus 99: Jerusalem’s All City Circle Route
Jerusalem’s special Red Double-Decker 99 Tourist Bus leaves four times daily from in front of Safra Square on Jaffa Road, Sunday to Thursday, starting at 9am. It stops at 29 major sites throughout the city and is a great way to sit back and get a feel for Jerusalem. Audio descriptions of the route and sites are available in eight languages. The fare for the All City Circle Route (approx. 2 hr.; no getting off the bus) is NIS 60. All-Day Passes, allowing multiple stop-offs, are NIS 80, but you have to coordinate reentering the bus with the route schedule. Tickets can be bought at many hotels (your hotel can also make a reservation for you); for further information, go to www.egged.co.il and click “English.”
Using the Jerusalem Light Rail
With its space age, shining silver cars, and its clanging bells reminiscent of San Francisco’s antique cable cars, the new Jerusalem Light Rail is a great way to see and get around the city. The route glides from the outer southwestern neighborhoods of the city; then along Downtown Jerusalem’s main thoroughfare, Jaffa Road; then near the Old City’s Damascus Gate; and then northeastward with stops in the Palestinian neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina. Finally, it travels to the extreme northeastern Israeli neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev. The Light Rail line intersects with bus lines that take you to all other areas of the city.
Trains arrive at frequent intervals. Digital signs on each train alternately flash the direction of the train and the name of each stop. Buy a ticket from the automated machines at each stop and enter the next train. Once aboard the train, you must immediately validate your ticket on the validation machine. From the time validated on your ticket, you have 90 minutes during which you can use your ticket to transfer to any connecting bus line along the Light Rail’s route. Inspectors make random checks of passengers. Failure to be in possession of a time-validated ticket results in a fine of NIS 160, and pleading ignorance is no excuse. The single fare on the Light Rail is NIS 6.60 (just like the bus), but expect this fare to rise in the future.
By Taxi-Private taxis take you throughout the city and charge higher night and Shabbat rates. The standard initial drop is approximately NIS 10. By law, the meter (ha-sha-on) must be turned on, and you will be given a printed receipt (ka-ba-lah) at your destination, but when taxi drivers see a foreigner, many ask for a set price before starting. Except during the most terrible rush-hour traffic jam, you’ll always do better with the meter. (But on a rainy Fri night, if the driver claims his meter is broken, you may not want to argue.) In central Jerusalem, a daytime ride should not be much more than NIS 30 to NIS 40, higher after 9pm and on Shabbat. Taxi drivers do not expect tips; at most, if your driver claims to have no change, round off the fare to the nearest shekel. Your driver may charge extra if he assists you in dragging baggage into or out of a building. If he doesn’t charge for this, a tip of a few shekels is warranted.
On Foot-Central Jerusalem and the Old City are compact and easy to walk. However, it’s hard to get to museums and the Knesset area at the western side of town on foot, as distances are far, and pedestrian facilities along access roads are not good.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.