Tourist tip #166 / How to take inter-city shared taxis between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
Sure, you can negotiate the maze of the central bus stations in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Or, you can bypass the chaos and get on your way.
The journey between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is not a long one, provided the two lanes that cut through the Judean Hills remain clear. Buses serving this route leave pretty regularly from the central bus stations in both cities – approximately every 20 minutes or so – but taking that option requires you to first wait in line at security to enter the building, elbow your way through crowds and take a half dozen wrong turns before ending up on the right floor and the right terminal. At that point, you get back in line to board the bus.
Another option is to grab an inter-city shared taxi, known as a sherut.
You can spot them as the yellow minivans resembling taxis on steroids. You might recognize them, in Tel Aviv at least, from their local counterparts, which troll the streets along pre-determined routes.
Tzemach David Street, which is the street that abuts Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station, is the pick-up spot for the inter-city sheruts. Because it's outside of the station, you can walk right up, jump right in and take right off… as soon as all ten seats are filled. That's the downside – sometimes it takes two minutes and sometimes twenty.
The inter-city sheruts display their destination on the dashboard: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Netanya, Ashkelon… all these cities and more are serviced. Signs are written in Hebrew so if that's not helpful for you, ask to confirm the destination.
Arriving in Jerusalem, the final stop is a tiny cul-de-sac near Zion Square, at the bottom of the Ben Yehuda pedestrian street, in the center of town.
That convenient drop-off is one big advantage over the buses, which leave you at the central bus station at the western end of the capital. Even better, once you enter the city you can ask the driver to pull over anywhere along the route that's more convenient for you, including at Binyanei Ha'Uma, across the street from the central bus station and just past the Chords Bridge, the harp-like gate at the city's entrance.
Another major plus of the sheruts: they run on the Sabbath while buses don't, so you'll never be stranded in one city when you want to get to the other. But you'll pay for that privilege: Prices jump up NIS 10 from Friday night to Saturday night.
Regular fare on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv route is NIS 23 for a one-way journey (NIS 33 for Sabbath trips), compared to NIS 18 for a one-way bus ticket.
Some people prefer the buses' plush seats and steady pace – sherut drivers are known to be a tad heavy on the gas pedal. But for those who want to avoid entering the bus station at any cost, are looking for a more customized drop-off, or need to be on the road before the Sabbath ends, the inter-city sherut is your answer.