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 travelling 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
Before you read on, just making 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 am very happy with it.
How to buy a ticket to Eilat?
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 2 weeks 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 costumer 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 the reserved seats? Here’s a list:
To/ from Jerusalem (spelled ירושלים in Hebrew) – line 444 (stopping at Masada and 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 their 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 the customer service through +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. In the picture below you can find out how to fill in everything:
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.
8- After completing the reservation, you will get a reservation number, which you will use afterwards, so keep it!
If you’re planning on boarding the bus from one of the main stations, you will find in the station a self-service ticket machine, 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 payment. The driver should already have your name in his or her list, so he might ask your name, too.
Note – if you also buy a return ticket online, you will get a 20% discount on the ticket.
Still having problems with purchasing your ticket? I’ll be happy to help you. Send a message to my Facebook Page: Backpack Israel.
Enjoy your ride!
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