Shabbat Bus Service in Central Israel Expands in Its Second Weekend

Weekend lines through the Tel Aviv metropolitan area run at a higher frequency due to high demand

A passenger boards free weekend shuttle service in Tel Aviv, November 22, 2019.
Tomer Appelbaum

The Shabbat public transportation system in central Israel launched last week has been expanded in its second weekend of operation due to high demand, Tel Aviv and other nearby cities supporting the service announced Thursday.

More than 10,000 people used the free service's six shuttle lines last weekend, making a total of some 300 trips on Friday and Saturday through Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Givatayim, Ramat Hasharon and Kiryat Ono, marking a significant shift in Israel, where most public transport doesn't operate on the Jewish sabbath.

Map of the new Shabbat bus routes.

This weekend, the service is operating at a higher frequency and for a longer time, with buses scheduled to travel each line three to four times an hour instead of just two, as they did last weekend. Some minibuses were also replaced by large buses.

The service passes through most of Tel Aviv’s neighborhoods, in Givatayim’s residential and entertainment areas and along central routes in Ramat Hasharon and Kiryat Ono. There are plans to expand it in the near future to Tel Aviv’s Hatikva Quarter, where currently minibus line 16 operates on Shabbat for a fee.

The Ramat Gan municipality, which was supposed to join the project, has retracted its plan. Mayor Carmel Shama-Hacohen decided instead to ask the city council to fund an independent service exclusively for Ramat Gan.