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Archive for the ‘CityPass Jerusalem Light Rail’ Category

CityPass/Egged Transfer OK

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 30, 2013

Rabbi David Sedley has posted an update:

CityPass called him on March 18 to confirm that it is still possible to transfer from an Egged bus to the Light Rail without paying twice. That’s good news! The woman from CityPass also confirmed that sometimes the machine takes two “clips” (rides) by mistake but you can try to get a refund at the CityPass office in the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem.

Mo’edim le-simcha!

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CityPass still taking us for a ride

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 14, 2013


Remember before the Jerusalem Light Rail opened, when you could ride the length of the city on the number 18 bus? Remember how Egged discontinued all their downtown lines, because it would be so “convenient” to transfer between trains and buses? Even if you were disabled or carrying heavy groceries and had children with you? Apparently you now have to pay for the privilege. According to David Sedley’s recent blog posting, you now have to pay for the privilege. CityPass no longer honours Egged bus transfers. I wasn’t able to find any confirmation on the CityPass site, only a short page (Hebrew and English) touting the benefits of transferring to connecting lines.

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Light Rail Inspector Law

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 4, 2012

Railway Inspector Law (Russian, English)

This is the law governing the appearance of train officials in Israel. My husband did the English translation (checked afterwards by two people for accuracy) and Masha did the Russian translation (checked by her mother):

Statute for Railways (#6, 2011): Section13: Railway Official on Local Railway. Identification of a Railway Official
48. A Railway Official shall not exercise his authority unless he is wearing a uniform that identifies his position, of a color and form that do not permit him to be mistakenly identified as a police officer; he is openly wearing a tag that identifies him and his position; and after he has shown a railway official identification, signed by the franchise owner of the local railway company, that identifies him and his position.
Addendum 2012, section two: Obligations concerning outward appearance of a railway official:
(3) The railway official identification of section 48 shall bear the photograph of the railway official.

Поправка к закону о железных дорогах (#6, 2011)
часть 13: железнодорожный служащий в городском поезде
Идентификация железнодорожного служащего. Железнодорожный служащий не имеет права вступить в свои полномочия , если он не отвечает данным требованиям: служащий одет в полную униформу определяющую его должность, имеет идентифицирующую карточку с именем и должностью прикрепленную на видное место, и предоставляет удостоверение работника железных дорог заверенную и подписанную ответственным лицом.
Постановления о железных дорогах (поправка 2012)
Форма и внешность служащего железных дорог
(3) на идентифицирующей карточке служащего железных дорог должна присутствовать фотография служащего.

You can download the PDF here.

The law clearly says that you do not have to show your ticket or ID/passport to a Light Rail inspector UNLESS he is wearing a uniform that cannot be mistaken for a police uniform, he has a tag with his name and position, and that he has a railway inspector’s ID signed by CityPass, that identifies his name, his position, and bears his photograph. Currently, a few railway inspectors are starting to carry ID cards, as they should have done from the very first day. If you are approached by a railway inspector, you have the right to request to see his ID. You might want to carry a copy of the PDF, to settle any arguments, because some inspectors are not aware of this law or deny its existence.

As for the resemblance between a train official’s uniform and a police uniform, that is, admittedly, subjective. You be the judge.

CityPass inspectors:

Nasty CityPass Inspectors

Jerusalem Light Rail, Opening Day

Israeli police (photo by david55king, a Haifa-based policeman):

Israel's Finest - Gil and Shmulik

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A Survival Guide for the Jerusalem Light Rail

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 1, 2012

Jerusalem Light Rail, Opening Day

(Photo: Ticket inspector on train, first day of operation). Passover is almost upon us and the inspectors will be hungry to fill their quotas of fines. Om March 29, Sharon D. of Jerusalem saw six inspectors in a single car at 9 p.m.; it was the end of the month, so they were getting antsy.

Update (April 1): Don’t dawdle when you’re getting your ticket validated or Rav Kav swiped. Yoel K. of Maale Adumim reports inspectors handing out tickets as soon as the doors closed, to people who were waiting in line to validate their tickets.

Update (April 4): Explain these procedures carefully to your children. Amichai G., age 17, couldn’t figure out how to insert his paper single-ride ticket into the machine. Two inspectors stood over him, waiting to ticket him. They made no attempt to help him. Other train passengers helped David with his ticket and told the inspectors that they should be ashamed.

Here are some simple guidelines to keep you from parting company with your NIS 186.60 ($50). Pass on these instructions to family and friends who are visiting Jerusalem. Carry them yourself if you’re not familiar with Light Rail procedures. For background and additional information, see my Jerusalem Light Rail page.

If you do not have a Rav Kav card

Update (April 4): L.R. of Maale Adumim reports that she was fined on the Light Rail when she tried to use her Egged bus ticket receipt to transfer from the Maale Adumim bus to the train. However others have reported being able to use their paper Egged tickets, so perhaps that issue has been resolved.

  1. Buy a single-ride ticket at a machine on the station platform.  (Instructions here.)
  2. Use the ticket the same day. Although it’s cheaper to buy a group of tickets, they must all be used on the day that you purchase them. These conditions are not printed on the ticket. By the way, you’ll note I said “day” and not date. If you buy the ticket after midnight and try to use it the following day, when the same date is stamped on the card, it will not work. The “day” ends when CityPass closes its gates.
  3. Insert the ticket into the top slot of the card reader on the train (attached to pole in photo above). Do not forget this step! It is easy to do so when you’re tired or confused. This is called “validating” the ticket. If you forget this step, you may be fined.
  4. Check that your ticket has a date and time-stamp on the back. That is the only thing that prevents you from being fined. Hold on to that ticket. You may transfer to a bus within 1.5 hours of the time stamped on the ticket. Just present the stamped ticket to the bus driver. (A note about beeps. I’m not sure whether the “long beep = good / three short beeps = bad” applies to tickets. If you know, please tell me.)
  5. If your ticket is not stamped, go to another machine. If you can’t find a functioning machine on the car (Devra A. of Maale Adumim once found herself in a car where all four machines were locked), get off the train and get on another car or train until you find a functioning machine. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Just say, “Excuse me, does anyone speak English? Can someone help me with this?”

CityPass single ride ticket

If you have a Rav Kav card

These instructions are for people who have a Rav Kav card but do not use the Light Rail frequently (e.g., residents of Maale Adumim, Jerusalemites who travel by car most of the time).

You cannot use a Rav Kav card for children or people traveling with you. They must travel on the single-ride cards described above.

If you have not used your Rav Kav since the new code (code 62) was introduced (ostensibly on December 1, 2011, but a bus driver sold me ten code 3 rides on Dec. 3), you need to load your card with new rides. This is not a concern if you are transferring from a bus (say, the Maale Adumim bus to Jerusalem) to the Light Rail because the bus driver would not have let you on with an old code 3 ride. It may be a problem if your Rav Kav hasn’t been used since last year. If this is the case, I advise you to load your card at a machine before getting on the train. CityPass did agree to cancel fines levied on passengers who were caught with the old code, but you don’t want the aggravation.

  1. Locate the yellow LED display on the front of the card reader attached to the pole on the train. Keep your eyes on it at all times because the confirmation message flashes by very quickly. Try not to get distracted. Update (Apr. 11): If you hold your Rav Kav against the ticket reading machine, the message continues to be displayed. (My husband discovered this by accident today. Of course, this could be a challenge if the train is very full.)
  2. Touch your Rav Kav card to the panel beneath the LED display. While your Rav Kav is in contact with the panel, you will be able to read the message. Otherwise it disappears as soon as you take your card away. You should hear a long beep and see a confirmation message on the screen. (Note: three short beeps indicates that something is wrong.) Now breathe a sigh of relief because you know that the machine was functioning and read your card correctly. The machine does not provide you with a printed receipt. That is why this confirmation is so important.
  3. If your card was not read correctly, go to another machine. If you can’t find a functioning machine on the car, get off the train and get on another car or train until you find a functioning machine. Or ask for help.

If you are approached by a ticket inspector

This is up to you. If you are sure that you have a valid ticket/Rav Kav card and you don’t want an argument, you can hand it over without a fuss. The alternative is to invoke the Light Rail Inspector law (English and Russian translations provided). A ticket inspector is obliged to have his name and function displayed on the uniform and to carry an ID card with the signature of the franchise owner (CityPass) and a photo of the inspector himself. You are legally entitled to request to see his ID. You do not have to show your teudat zehut if the inspector does not have an inspector ID with a photo, signed by CityPass. A ticket inspector is also supposed to wear a uniform that is distinguishable from a police uniform. That is admittedly subjective. Here are the photos. You be the judge.

If you receive a fine and wish to appeal

CityPass has an office in the Central Bus Station near the SuperPharm. If you received a ticket on a technicality (i.e., you forgot to validate your ticket, you couldn’t read the info posters because they are only in Hebrew, or the machine was brokenlocked), you can appeal your ticket there and they will likely convert it to a warning. It’s worth a try if you live here or plan to return to Israel.

What does not work:

  • Arguing with the ticket inspectors. Forget it — a lot of these guys enjoy a good fight and they aren’t going to let your distress stop them from making their monthly quota of fines.
  • Writing to the State Comptroller. Yoni C. of Jerusalem tried this and received an email (the only response to all the emails he sent out to CityPass and other organizations) that the State Comptroller couldn’t help him.
  • Refusing to show your Israeli ID or passport outright (without requesting to see the inspector’s ID. See the Light Rail Inspector law). CityPass will eventually close this loophole but it’s worth knowing. If you simply refuse to show your ID, the inspector will call the police, and they will side with the ticket inspectors.

(Update: April 22 – section on children/strollers added)

Traveling with young children and strollers


  • An adult is allowed to travel with one child under the age of five, free of charge (if you have two adults and two children, the children are free).
  • If an adult is accompanied by more than one child under the age of five, only one child may travel free. The other children must have their own Rav Kav cards and pay with them. You cannot put more than one person on a Rav Kav card, so you can’t use your own card to pay for children.
  • A baby’s Rav Kav is valid for either 8 or 10 years (needs to be verified).


  • A folded stroller is always free.
  • An unfolded (i.e., open) stroller is free during low use hours (before 7 a.m., between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and after 7 p.m). An open stroller requires payment during peak hours (between 7 and 10 a.m. and 3 and 7 p.m.).
  • If a child is in a stroller, the stroller is considered an “open” stroller.

In other words:

  • 1 adult + 1 child + 1 closed stroller: pay for 1 adult at all times.
  • 1 adult + 1 child + 1 open stroller:
    • Off-peak hours – pay for 1 adult
    • Peak time – pay for 1 adult + 1 child (you pay for the stroller using the child’s Rav Kav).
  • 1 adult + 2 children + 1 closed stroller: pay for 1 adult and 1 child at all times
  • 1 adult + 2 children + 1 open stroller:
    • Off-peak hours – pay for 1 adult and 1 child
    • Peak time: pay for 1 adult and 1 child

(Naomi M. of Jerusalem verified this with Danit from Citypass customer service. Many thanks, Naomi!)

Disclaimer: This information is offered as a public service. While I make every effort to keep it up to date, CityPass may change its conditions at any time.


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Damaged CityPass Posters: Who Do I Call?

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 29, 2012

CitiPass Poster, Central Bus Station

These photographs were all taken on March 27, 2012. When I photographed these CityPass posters, I was only trying to confirm that all the posters were in Hebrew. So I don’t have a complete set of all four posters (one at each shelter) of the Central Bus Station. I only have photos of three of the four. I noticed, after I looked at the photos, that the two posters in the busiest locations had the contact information obscured.

The poster above is on the side of the Central Bus Station, closest to the center of Jerusalem. You can see the main entrance of the bus station on the right. Someone has inserted tickets under the glass to cover the URL and phone number.

The poster below (opposite the one above) has been pulled out of the frame by its lower right corner and tickets have been inserted under the glass. This poster was photographed by the pathway that leads to Binyanei haUma. You can see the underground rail construction site on the right.

CitiPass Poster, Central Bus Station

This is an undamaged poster, photographed below, at the shelter closest to Center One.

Undamaged CityPass Poster, Central Bus Station

This is the  location of the shelter with the undamaged poster, just beyond the empty sign posts — sign posts that could have been used for Arabic, English, or Russian posters.

Jerusalem Light Rail, Central Bus Station

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CityPass’s Web Site: Hebrew Only

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 29, 2012

CitiPass site in Hebrew

[Note: This is part of a posting I published on March 28, 2012. I thought it would be better to put it in a separate posting.]

The CityPass site (screen capture above) is only in Hebrew. All the links work but I’m told that they do not answer their phones or faxes. One note about these screen captures: I created them yesterday but the situation was the same when I checked the site in December. The Jerusalem Light Rail started operating in August, 2011.

The English link is disabled:

CitiPass site - English link

The Arabic link points not to an Arabic translation of the Hebrew site but to a two-page PDF file with the same information as the Hebrew posters in Jerusalem Light Rail stops.

If the PDF exists, why aren’t these posters displayed at train stops, since Arabic is one of Israel’s official languages? That’s a very good question. There is no option for Russian, let alone Amharic.

CitiPass site - Arabic link

CitiPass Info in Arabic

CitiPass Price List in Arabic

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Video: Family with Tickets Fined NIS 933 on Jerusalem Light Rail

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 28, 2012

This video is in Hebrew.

This family came to Jerusalem and bought tickets for the Jerusalem Light Rail for the first time. They did not insert their tickets into the ticket reading machine on the train to validate them (the machine stamps a date and time on the back of the ticket). The paper tickets are stamped with the date of purchase, so it is obvious that the tickets were purchased and are valid. They were told by inspectors that they had violated the law and were asked to present their Israeli ID cards (teudot zehut).

Initially, they refused to show their ID cards to the inspectors. The inspectors called the police, who threatened to arrest them. They presented their ID cards and received five fines, one for each family member, for a total of NIS 933 ($250).

Note: Tourists are asked for their passports. I’m not sure what happens if someone claims to have no documents. Although Israelis are required by law to carry their ID cards, I do not know of a similar law for foreigners.

Posted in CityPass Jerusalem Light Rail, Israel | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Who is CityPass? And Why Are We Stuck with Them for 30 Years?

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 28, 2012

CitiPass site in Hebrew

There has been some misunderstanding about who or what CityPass actually is. You need to know who they are because we are stuck with them for the next thirty years. Read on….

CityPass (not to be mistaken for CityPASS, the American company) is a consortium that was formed specifically to build and operate the Jerusalem Light Rail. Its membership is as follows (source: Calcalist):

Last Thursday the Ministry of Transportation granted full operating authority to CityPass. The contract is for 30 years. You can read the general details in this Globes article.

CityPass is not the Jerusalem Municipality and it doesn’t care about your rights as a passenger. CityPass is a conglomeration of businesses trying to a lot of money in as little time as possible. Your NIS 6.60 ticket doesn’t keep them running. Your NIS 186.60 fine does. The CityPass ticket inspectors, I’ve been told, are required to fulfil a quota of fines (“duchot” in Hebrew), so if you see a huge grin on an inspector’s face as he writes your fine, it’s not your imagination. CityPass has had a lot of financial problems because ticketing problems forced them to run the train for free during the first months of operation. Now they’re recouping their losses, at our expense — and they still have ticketing problems.

What are your chances of being fined? Very high if you are a tourist, a non-Hebrew speaker, elderly, Arab, or from out of town. If you live in Jerusalem and use the system regularly, your chances are lower because you know how to validate your ticket but you can still incur a fine if the ticket reader is broken or locked (a friend of mine was on a train last Saturday evening and discovered all four ticket readers in the car were locked; she was lucky an inspector did not board her car), if the ticket reading machine did not read your Rav Kav card properly, or if you boarded the train and then discovered that you did not have any rides left on your Rav Kav.

It is not possible to buy a ticket once you’ve boarded the train.

It is not possible to buy a ticket from an inspector.

It is not possible to explain to the inspector that you made a mistake or ran out of rides or that the ticket reader was not working. You will receive a fine (NIS 186.60 or $50) because that’s how the inspectors keep their jobs.

The system is designed so that a large number of new users will make mistakes. Paper tickets do not have terms or conditions printed on them, so you have no way of knowing that they are valid only for one day. The ticket selling machines do not tell you this condition and the only notice is in a verbose Hebrew poster (photo below). The notice does not appear in other languages. You might find it on their Web site if you’re fast enough with your iPhone! Rav Kav cards don’t tell you how many rides are left. The card reading machine on the train has a yellow display with light grey dots. When you validate your card or ticket, a message will flash on at lightning speed and then disappear. If you are standing too close or too far away or you’re not fast enough at reading the message, well, too bad. These machines do not provide receipts to indicate that your ticket validation was successful. There is a beep and a light but you may miss them if you’re distracted. I didn’t notice them the first two times I went on the train. The “success” and “failure” beeps are similar, but at slightly different pitches. If you’re boarding a quiet train you might hear the difference.

Update: Originally I had a section here on CityPass’s Web site. I’ve moved it to its own posting.

Unless you are adept at reading Hebrew and able to take in information very quickly, your chances of knowing the conditions of your tickets are not high. Here is the CityPass information. It is displayed four times at the Central Bus Station, with empty sign posts between. You’d think they would rent the space or add posters in other languages, but, no, that would probably reduce the incidence of fines.

If you are able to read Hebrew, I strongly recommend that you click on the photo below (on the Flickr site, right-click and choose “Original Size” ) and read it at your leisure, because you may not even get close to the poster at a crowded train stop.

CityPass poster

Note the empty sign posts between ticket machines (Jerusalem Central Bus Station):

Jerusalem Light Rail, Central Bus Station

While the train is operating it is difficult to get close enough to the posters to read them. The ticket machines (if they’re operating) have long lines and people are clustered by the benches, under the shelter. I had to wait for a train to pull out of the station in order to take this photo.

Jerusalem Light Rail, Central Bus Station

I apologize to readers who follow my blog for its photography content. I will post the Carmel wildflower photos soon!

As for the Jerusalem Light Rail situation, I plan to blog soon about your rights and what you can do if you are harassed or intimidated by a ticket inspector or receive an unwarranted fine.

Posted in CityPass Jerusalem Light Rail, Israel | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

CityPass Rip-Off

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 26, 2012

Today was my second trip (ever) on the Jerusalem Light Rail. I got fined 180 NIS for not knowing that the paper tickets are good only the day you purchase them. There’s nothing written on the ticket itself. Who ever heard of a ticket expiring? Money doesn’t expire, bus tickets don’t expire, so why do Jerusalem Light Rail tickets expire?

The inspector on the right took my ticket. He didn’t tell me there was anything wrong. He just looked at my ticket and said, “Can I see your ID card to check something?” I gave him my ID because I’m a law-abiding citizen and it never occurred to me that something was wrong with the ticket. He announced in a loud, obnoxious voice, “You have broken the law! You must be fined!,” making no attempt to hide his satisfaction. Understand this — although I made a mistake, I can’t undo it by offering to pay (I had a valid Rav Kav in my bag) because I have already broken the law. There is no recourse. I will receive a 180 NIS fine in the mail for making a mistake about a 6.60 NIS ticket.

Nasty CityPass Inspectors

Here’s the front of the ticket, showing the date I purchased it. There is no indication that the card is good only on that day. The writing at the top says to insert it in the direction of the arrows. The writing above the date says “Single ride.”


Here’s the back of the card. I did notice that the machine hadn’t stamped the card but the implication didn’t register because I was tired after a long hike in the woods. Also, I assumed that because I had paid for a ticket, the ticket was still good. If the machine stamped the card with “Invalid,” I would have used my Rav Kav card. Now I know (too late) that the machine where you run your card through has a display that tells you if it’s valid. But I got on at Herzl, we were pressed into the crowded car like sardines, and I was standing too close to the machine to see that it had a display, let alone read it.

Citypass ticket back

My husband saw a poster at one of the stations, so he went to check it out. He said that he read through two columns of text before he found the line about the paper tickets only being good the day they’re purchased. Can you imagine busy commuters stopping to read all that print when running for a train?

So the moral of the story is this: Don’t ever, ever make a mistake on the Jerusalem Light Rail. It’ll cost you and it’s unpleasant and humiliating to be labeled a law-breaker in front of dozens of people.

Remember to tell your tourist friends that they can’t save time or money by buying a bunch of the paper tickets and using them throughout their stay. They’re stuck with having to buy single tickets every single day. And good luck with that! When I got out at King George and Jaffa Street, possibly the busiest intersection on the route, two out of the four machines (both sides of the track) were out of order.

The money does not go to the municipality of Jerusalem. It goes to CityPass, the company that destroyed our downtown businesses and streets for years, and who now staffs its trains with inspectors who must either get a quota or a commission. CityPass was forced to cancel files caused by riders receiving wrong or outdated codes on their Rav Kav (the CityPass smart card — I still have a bunch of rides with the old code that were mistakenly sold to me on Dec. 2 by a bus driver and now they’re worthless).

Posted in CityPass Jerusalem Light Rail, Israel | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »