Israel on the move: A Guide to public transportation on Shabbat

Several organizations and municipalities in Israel have begun to operate public transportation services on the Sabbath for the benefit of their non-observant citizens. While it remains a controversial topic in Israeli politics, public demand is on the rise for more convenient travel solutions on the day of rest.
Demand on the rise for public transport on Shabbat Photo Credit: Hadas Parush, Flash 90/ Channel 2 News

Public and even private transportation on Shabbat is an oft debated and highly contentious topic in Israeli politics. In light of the Haredi MKs' recent demands to cancel the permits to operate public transportation on Shabbat, Channel 2 News offers a glance at transportation lines that still operate on the day of rest.

The privately-run organization Shabus operates a number of lines on Friday nights, which were originally meant to serve young people but have proved beneficial to various shabbat-travelers. On Friday nights, the organization operates lines that run between Ma'ale Adummim and Jerusalem and Rosh Haayin via Ramat Hasharon to Tel Aviv and back. On Saturday mornings, Shabus operates a bus line from Ma'aleh Adumim that reaches both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In the afternoon, the line makes its way back from Frishman Beach in Tel Aviv.

Starting this weekend, a new line will be launched which will depart from the Cinema City in Rishon LeZion, continue to Holon and from there travel to Tel Aviv. Prices range between 5.90 and 25 shekel and exact times and locations can be found on their Facebook page and website.

Shabus shuttle runs on Shabbat Photo Credit: Maya Green, Shabus/ Channel 2 News

Nua Tanua also operates a number of lines on Saturdays: Line 63, which runs through Ramat Gan, Givatayim and Tel Aviv and Line 18, which runs in Bat Yam, Jaffa and Tel Aviv. The cost of the trips currently stands at 9 shekel. Since the organization is still raising funds for the project, payment for trips is made via the HopOn app. All of the organization's lines are active on Saturdays from morning until evening. Precise information on the routes, times and locations is available on their Facebook page and website.

Limited shuttles instead of buses on Shabbat Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg, Flash 90/ Channel 2 News

Some municipalities also offer transportation options on Shabbat; Holon runs free buses to and from Tel Aviv every Friday night during the summer months. Ranana offers free shuttle services on Friday nights to various locations around the city, also primarily during the summer. Haifa, a mixed population city, offers a limited bus service throughout the city. Haifa's Metronit runs 24/7, Friday nights and Saturdays included. Eilat- Israel's vacation destination- offers very limited transportation services on Shabbat and primarily for tourists. Only a few bus lines are allowed to enter and leave the city after Shabbat begins.

Many of Israel's larger Arab cities, like Nazareth and Um al Fachem, as well as most non- Jewish towns in the Galilee- offer uninterrupted transportation throughout the weekend.

As of January 2016, Israel has 376 bus lines operating on the day of rest with the approval of the Ministry of Transport and Road Safety. "There is broad public agreement by more than 70 percent of the public that there is a need to operate public transportation in a limited format in cities with a secular majority," said Eyal Ackerman, the coordinator of the "Free Israel" movement. "The support is consistent, and the numbers in the polls increase every year."

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