One of the most budget-friendly ways to travel in Israel is to take the bus. On most buses, you can simply pay when boarding the bus. But if you’re traveling to or from Eilat, you’ll need to pre-order your ticket. Here is how to buy a bus ticket in Israel.
Head pic credit: Grauesel CC BY-SA 3.0 from Wikimedia Commons
Post last updated on 29 May 2022.
Before you read on, just make sure you know that there’s no public transportation during Shabbat and some holidays in Israel. Want to learn more? Read – There’s No Public Transportation on Shabbat
How to pay for a bus ticket in Israel?
Since 2018, you cannot buy bus tickets directly from the bus driver. You will need to get a Rav-Kav and load it with enough money for the ride. Since 2021, it is also possible to pay using a payment app like Hop-On (Rav-Pass) or Moovit. I have used Hop-On and I am very happy with it.
How to buy a ticket to Eilat?
So, for most buses in Israel, you don’t have to buy a bus ticket in advance. There is an exception, and it’s the Egged bus driving to and from Eilat. That bus has reserved seats, so if you won’t purchase a ticket before getting on the bus (you can do so starting from 9 days prior to your travel date), you might arrive and find out that there’s no empty seat for you. Then the driver might let you stand the whole way to your destination or refuse to let you board the bus. In that case, you will have to wait for the next bus.
To purchase your ticket beforehand, you have three options:
1- Go to the bus station at least a day (and up to a week) before your ride and order a ticket from the ticket booth. You can also come on the same day and try your luck. There might be an empty seat, but might not be.
2- Dial +972-3-6948888 and reserve your seat through customer service.
3- Reserve your place online, through the Hebrew ordering system.
In the two last cases, you will not get your ticket immediately. You will get a reservation number, which you will use later in the self-service ticket machine, situated in every central station in Israel.
Buses driving to/from Eilat
So which buses are those with reserved seats? Here’s a list:
To/ from Jerusalem (spelled ירושלים in Hebrew) – line 444 (stopping at Masada and the Dead Sea), 445.
To/ from Tel Aviv (spelled תל אביב in Hebrew) – line 394 (stopping at Be’er Sheva), line 390, and line 393 (stopping at Be’er Sheva).
To/ from Be’er Sheva (spelled באר שבע in Hebrew) – line 394 (final stop Tel Aviv if coming from Eilat), line 392, and line 397.
To/ from Haifa (spelled חיפה in Hebrew) – line 991.
Booking a bus ticket through the online reservation system
Here’s the video guide and below you can find it all written down (for those who prefer the written word). The video was made when Egged still had its old website. Now they have a new version, but the booking system is the same:
1 – Enter the Egged website.
2- Click “Tickets” on the navigation menu.
3- Click “Tickets to Eilat”.
4- Dial customer service at +972-3-6948888 or purchase your ticket online by clicking “Book now (Hebrew)”.
5- A new window will pop up, directing you to the reservations system of Egged in Hebrew.
Look at the picture below to understand what you should do:
6- After filling in all the data and clicking “המשך”, you will be directed to the timetable of your requested bus route. Choose the time that best suits you and click on “המשך” to get to the next step in your reservation. If you have ordered a two-way trip, you will be asked to choose the time of the return trip in the next screen.
7- Congrats! You’ve made it to the final step – payment. Fill in all the details. choose the method of payment and click “אישור הזמנה” to complete your reservation. Update September 2022: They have changed the payment methods and now you can only pay by credit card (תשלום באשראי).
In the picture below you can find out how to fill in everything. Note: The screen looks different now and there’s no option to pay with Paypal:
Important note: When filling in your passport number, do not type an alphanumeric ID. The section only works with numbers, so type in your ID with numbers only (no letters). Nobody checks your passport, so it doesn’t have to be precise.
Also, when filling in the credit card details, you will need to fill in your credit card number (מספר כרטיס), the expiry date (תוקף כרטיס) – Year (שנה) and month (חודש), the CVV, and the owner’s ID (ת.ז בעל הכרטיס).
8- After completing the reservation, you will get a reservation number, which you will use afterward, so keep it!
If you’re planning on boarding the bus from one of the main stations, you will find a self-service ticket machine in the station, called “Eilatomat”.
You will need to get your ticket from this machine by putting in your passport number (ID number) (מספר דרכון / מספר ת.ז. / מספר תעודת זהות) and reservation number (מספר הזמנה). The machine operates in English as well. You can get your ticket up to two hours before your departure time. I advise you to arrive at the station at least 20 minutes before departure. If you’re getting on the bus at a stop that has no “Eilatomat,” show the bus driver your reservation number. Write the number which appears on the screen after you complete the payment. The driver should already have your name on their list so they might ask for your name, too.
Note – if you also buy a return ticket online, you will get a 20% discount on the ticket.
Are you still having problems with purchasing your ticket? I’ll be happy to help you. Send a message to my Facebook Page: Backpack Israel.
How do you cancel or postpone your bus ticket?
Sometimes, we can’t make it to things we’ve planned a long time in advance. So, if you think you’re going to miss the bus or your plans have changed, you can cancel or postpone your ticket. You can do that only up to 2 hours from the time of departure, so make sure to do it on time. If you cancel or change the booking less than 2 hours in advance, you’ll be charged a 15 ILS cancellation fee.
Change the time of departure
1- Click here.
2- Fill in your booking number (מס’ הזמנה) and the ID number (מס’ ת.ז) you used for the booking. Then click on “Show order” (הצג הזמנה).
3- If you’ve filled in the details correctly, your order will appear underneath the details you filled. Click on the “Choose a type of update” (בחר סוג עדכון) and choose the type of update you want to do. There are many types. Changing the bus departure date and time is called “עדכון מועד נסיעה” and it’s the first option in the dropdown. Click on it in the dropdown.
4- Mark the box next to all passengers or only those who want to change the departure time. Then, click “Update date” (עדכון תאריך).
5 – In the popup that will open, change to the date you want and then choose a time from the timetable that will open up. Then, click on “Continue” (המשך) that appears at the bottom left side of the screen.
6 – Your booking details will appear again with the changes and you will need to choose if you want to pay for the new reservation with Paypal or a credit card. Then, when you approve the changes and choose your payment method, it will send you a new reservation number and confirmation.
Cancel the bus ticket
1- Click here.
2 – Fill in your booking number (מס’ הזמנה) and the ID number (מס’ ת.ז) you used for the booking. Then click on “Show order” (הצג הזמנה).
3 – Your booking details will appear. Click on “Cancel Booking” (בטל הזמנה).
4 – The system will ask you if you are sure you want to cancel your booking. Click “Approve” (אישור).
5 – It will redirect you to a page confirming that your booking was canceled. If you entered your email in the booking, you should also get a cancellation confirmation to your email address.
In general, there’s no need to book a bus ticket in advance in Israel. You only need a charged Rav Kav or payment application. But, if you need a bus ticket to Eilat, you should book it in advance through the various ways I showed in this post. Hope this post cleared the ways you can buy a bus ticket in Israel!
Enjoy your ride!
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