Monday, May 28, 2018

Public Bus Travel Update, Easier Than I Thought

For the first time in ages, last Friday I traveled via the Jerusalem Central Bus Station. The last time I had taken a bus from there, I just had to say "senior" when I bought my ticket from the driver. I remember being "insulted" that he didn't claim I looked too young or at least ask for identification.

Now since I heard that I'd have to put money into my RavKav bus/train card and use it to pay, like a prepaid credit card, I was nervous. I had never done that before. Friends told me that it was the only way I could get the senior discount.
I'm lucky that I know Hebrew, because so many of the signs were Hebrew only, but the machine does have an English option. I went to a clerk; I prefer people. I asked him to put ns100 into my card, which he did. Of course I paid. I used a credit card.

The RavKav is personal. It has my Identity number and a photo of me. You only get a discount if you have a personal one, and you're old enough, or handicapped, of course.

Tourists pay full-fare. Actually a few years ago when I was in the states and took the train from New York to Philadelphia, I was told that my US passport didn't qualify me for senior discount. I needed a special American card. Later on in the visit my friend and I went to the special office to get one, and they still wouldn't give me. They said that I needed something other than a passport. And I'm an American citizen...

Apparently, here in Israel, if you're qualified for a discount, the sum you deposit in your card is doubled automatically. When you pay a fare, the "full fare" is subtracted from the card. But it's really the half fare, because as in my case the ns100 became ns200.

Not only was I able to use my RavKav to pay for the bus to Ashdod, but in Ashdod the local bus driver accepted it for payment to the hotel.

The only English signs I found in the bus station told people about the special bus to Ben-Gurion Airport and the bus to Tel Aviv. Information about depositing money in your RavKav was only in Hebrew. The powers there figure that anyone who's Israeli enough to have a RavKav must know Hebrew.

And if you need English explanations, I hope this blog post helped you.

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