All buses in Israel require a RavKav smartcard for payment. You can typically buy one and add money to it at any small kiosk or super market (makolet in Hebrew), or you can download the app on your phone and scan it once you board the bus. For more information, use the Moovit app to conveniently access bus schedules in real-time and according to your scheduling needs. Most bus drivers speak English. A single full-fare city bus ticket costs NIS 5.90. Tip: Be aware that you may occasionally be asked to produce proof that you’ve paid, otherwise it is all based on the honor system.
Using the Jerusalem Light RailWith its space age, shining silver cars, and its clanging bells reminiscent of San Francisco’s antique cable cars, the 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.
Despite armed guards, who are posted at many stops, it is advised to remain alert while riding the Light Rail, especially while passing through Palestinian neighborhoods, like those in East Jerusalem, and Bethlehem in the West Bank. Stay informed about the current security situation in Jerusalem by checking the many English media outlets, or inquire at your hotel’s front desk before going for a trip.
Trains arrive at frequent intervals. Digital signs on each train alternately flash the direction of the train and the name of each stop. Either use a RavKav (smartcard or app) or buy a ticket from the automated machines at each Light Rail 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, and pleading ignorance is no excuse. The single fare on the Light Rail is NIS 10.90 (just like the bus), and discounts are available when purchasing multi-trip tickets.
Private taxis take you throughout the city and charge higher night and Shabbat rates. The standard initial drop is approximately NIS 13. 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.
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. If in doubt about how to get to where you want to go, we advise taking a taxi.
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.