This is a new kind of post for me: a how to. Those of you currently following my blog are almost certainly in the U.S. and/or know Jerusalem better than I do – so feel free to skip this post. I intend this guide for new visitors to the city.
If you want to get from point A to point B in West Jerusalem using the Egged bus system, and you read English but not Hebrew, there are two websites that help immensely. (The intricacies of the two East Jerusalem bus systems will need to wait for another post.) One website, unsurprisingly, is the Egged schedule and trip planner in English – www.egged.co.il/eng/ . The other is an impressive site developed by a private citizen – http://www.jlembusmap.com/ .
Neither site on its own on gets me all of the information I usually need to plot my course to a new destination. The Egged schedule and trip planner does not take addresses and does not think in terms of “nearby.” So unlike the New York City MTA trip planner, for example, you cannot enter your departure and destination addresses and have it tell you “walk ½ mile northwest, get on bus 13, get off at Shivtei Yisrael,” etc. This is where the bus map comes in handy. What follows is my recommended method for using the two websites together.
Begin with the bus map. By default it opens with every Egged bus line in Jerusalem shown. This can be overwhelming, but keep it like this for the moment.
- Zoom in on the area from which you are leaving, and remember or write down the lines that cross near to your departure point.
- Zoom in on the area to which you are heading, and remember or write down the lines that pass near to your destination.
- On the left you will see that you can select or unselect the bus lines and other information. Unselect all.
- Then individually select both those lines that cross near your departure point and those that pass near your destination.
- Zoom out. Look at the intersection of these various lines, and see what you would guess would be the most efficient combination for getting to where you are going.
Now, you might think you are done – “Great, I’ll take the #13 bus to Shivtei Yisrael, where it meets the #1bus, which I’ll to Lions Gate.” Not quite. Notice that the lines don’t tell you where the bus stops are. For that, you will need the Egged trip planner. When you go to the Egged page:
- Select the schedule option.
- Put in your first bus number.
- Choose either the closest stop to your departure point, if you can identify it already from the popup menu, or one that you would guess is before your departure point. (The popup list does not identify the address of every bus stop – it uses neighborhoods or famous sites – the special Egged English terms for which you’ll have to figure out!)
- Choose either your destination, if you can identify it already from the popup menu, or a stop after your destination.
- Press “daily timetable and stops” and then “stops” after the time that most closely approximates when you want to leave. Now you get a list that identifies the exact addresses of the bus stops on the route.
- Open a separate google maps page, and map the bus stops you think are closest to your departure point. Record the directions.
- Repeat with the other lines. Notice that even though two bus lines intersect, they might not share the same bus stop – you might need to walk a bit. You’ll need to google map those connections, as well as the trip from your destination bus stop to your actual destination.
- Finally, use the trip planner to identify the scheduled times of departure and arrival of your buses. Do not, however, take these times too seriously, and make sure to note the approximate frequency. You’ll want to know once you’ve waited for 20 minutes at your transfer stop whether this stinks or is par for the course.
Good luck, and please suggest improvements to this algorithm.