Getting to Jerusalem from the airport is not as painful as it
seems. There are reasonable alternatives to a private taxi. The most common is
called a "shurut" or "sherut" which is essentially a shared taxi (van).
The shurut service at Ben Gurion Airport is operated by a company called "Nesher".
These taxis are available 24 hours a day to major cities such as Jerusalem and
Tel Aviv. They can easily be found just outside the main arrival terminal. The
cost per person is approx. $10.00 USD.
Of course there are advantages
and disadvantages using the Nesher taxi system. The obvious advantage for a sole
traveller (one or two people) is price. For first time visitors, small groups of
three or more people, late night arrivals, Shabbat arrivals, or those arriving
with heavy luggage should definately reserve a
private taxi. Below we
have listed some pros and cons to consider:
Speed & Convenience
PRIVATE TAXI - It's fast and comfortable. Departure from the
airport is immediate and the driver knows exactly where to go.
AIRPORT SHURUT - You have to wait to fill up with other people.
Most of these drivers either don't know where the Mount of Olives is or they
simply refuse to go.
PRIVATE TAXI - Slightly more expensive if travelling alone.
Definately worth the extra cost for first time visitors.
AIRPORT SHURUT - Cheap and convenient if you've done it before and
you know Jerusalem well. Not a good idea economically for three or more people.
The Path of Least Resistence
PRIVATE TAXI - Assuming no traffic or other unforseen events, you
will enter the taxi at the airport parking lot and, fifty minutes later, be at
the door of the Mount of Olives Hotel.
Total Time = 50 minutes to an hour. Cultural Experience = Fair.
AIRPORT SHURUT - After waiting to fill up, the drive to Jerusalem
is pretty straight forward. As you approach the city, the driver will drop
everyone else off at their exact address EXCEPT YOU. This process can take an
extra hour. Once you are alone with the driver, he will explain that he either
does not know where the Mount of Olives is or that he is unwilling to go there
unless you pay extra money. Otherwise, he will simply drop you off at a central
location in the city. The search for a second taxi can be daunting especially at
night. Total Time = 2 to 4 hours. Cultural Experience = High
PRIVATE TAXI - We do our best to select good & honest drivers.
We know most of them personally.
AIRPORT SHURUT - The airport drivers have a reputation for being
nasty and bombastic. This is the stereotype though and clearly not all of them
fit it. Our customers do report unethical overcharging on occassion either by
them or the second city cab you may be forced to take.
Your State Of Mind Upon Arrival (Part 1)
Long flight, fatigue, jetlag, exhaustion, etc.
PRIVATE TAXI - Generally no surprises.
AIRPORT SHURUT - You will certainly be exhausted after a long trip
and will accept just about anything to get to the hotel. Unethical drivers
understand this and take advantage of it.
Your State Of Mind Upon Arrival (Part 2)
Personal Belongings, Money, Luggage, Passport, Etc.
PRIVATE TAXI - Gererally no surprises.
AIRPORT SHURUT - You just went through passport control, customs,
and possibly a nightmarish security check. Upon exiting the terminal, you are
probably still holding important documents in your hand. You easily forget where
you put your ticket. If your anything like me, you constantly double-check to
see if money, travellers checks and other valuables are all still where you put
them. Your camera is dangling on your shoulder, you have a confusing array of
multiple currencies floating around in your pocket, and you are juggling your
luggage and a handbag back and forth while trying to find a reasonable place to
put your jacket. The shurut driver then grabs most of these expensive and
necessary personal belongings and tosses them into the back of his van out of
your view. Certainly nothing will happen to any of it but if you don't have
nagging visions of lost or stolen items, then you must be a trusting person by