Transportation in Israel is based mainly on private motor vehicles and bus service and an expanding railway network. Demands of population growth, political factors, the Israel Defense Forces, tourism and increased traffic set the pace. All facets of transportation in Israel are under the supervision of the Ministry of Transport and Road Safety.
Israel's road network spans 18,096 km of roads, of which 230 km are classified as freeways. The network spans the whole country.
Route 6, the Trans Israel Highway, starts just east of Haifa down to the outskirts of Beer Sheva, about 200 km. Route 1 between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and Route 2 between Tel Aviv and Haifa are well maintained highways.
Buses are the country's main form of public transport. In 2009, bus passenger trips totaled approximately 654 million. In the same year, 16 companies operated buses for public transport, totaling 5,939 buses and 8,470 drivers. Egged is Israel's largest bus company, and operates routes throughout the country. Bus routes in some areas are operated by smaller carriers, the largest being the Dan Bus Company, operating routes in Gush Dan. Kavim is the next largest.
Bus stations in Israel, other than standalone bus stops, come in two types: terminals (masof, pl. mesofim) and central stations (tahana merkazit). Each terminal serves a number of routes, usually over a dozen, while a central station may serve over a hundred bus routes. The largest central bus terminal in the country is the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station, which is also the second largest bus terminal in the world.
Israel also has a share taxi service (Hebrew - Sherut), run by several private companies, depending on location, in addition to regular taxicab services. The shared sherut service usually appears a yellow minivans and travel along the same path as the normal buses with identical route numbers. For a slightly higher price, the shared sherut service allows passengers to both hop on and hop off anyway along the path of travel. During peak travel, often the time of travel can be shortened as the number of passengers is significantly small compared to normal bus services. Some routes continue to travel through the night and on Shabbat providing transport needs to the population when normal buses services cease. The beginning and end of the sherut vans may differ from the Tachana Makazit and on the weekends and evenings, the routes can also be altered for some services.
On August 5, 2010, the Ministry of Transport opened a website that contained information about public bus and train routes in the country. Previously, information was given only by the individual public transit operators.
Bus rapid transit
One bus rapid transit system is being built in Haifa, called the Metronit, which will consists of three lines connecting Haifa to its suburbs. In addition, the blue line of the Jerusalem Light Rail system is currently operating as a bus rapid transit system, and will be replaced by the Jerusalem Light Rail in the following years.
- Total: 1001.4 km 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) (standard gauge). In 2011 there were over 35 million passenger rides taken.
Many of Israel's railway lines were constructed before the founding of the state during Ottoman and British rule. The first line was the Jaffa–Jerusalem railway, followed by the Jezreel Valley railway, which formed part of the greater Hejaz railway. World War I brought the creation of multiple new lines out of military needs: Portions of what is now the Coastal railway were built simultaneously by the Turkish and British and later merged during the British Mandate. Southern lines were also built by the warring states—from the north by the Ottomans, and from Rafah in the west by the British.
Beginning in the mid-1960s, railway development stagnated, and a number of lines (notably, the Jezreel Valley railway and most of the Eastern railway) were abandoned altogether. Development restarted in the 1990s, the opening of Tel Aviv's Ayalon railway in 1993 signaling a new era of rail development. Lines under construction in the 2000s include the high-speed railway to Jerusalem, an extension of the coastal railway directly from Tel Aviv to Ashdod through the northern Shephelah, and a line from Ashkelon to Beersheba via Sderot, Netivot and Ofakim, as well as a complete reconstruction of the line from Lod to Beersheba.
There is a 13 km light rail system operating in Jerusalem which is due to be extended within the next three years. The construction of the Tel Aviv light rail has begun and the first line will be completed by 2016. A subway also exists in Haifa, called Carmelit. It is listed in Guinness World Records as the shortest subway system in the world, being the second smallest track network (after the Tünel in Istanbul,) but being the smallest "system" by virtue of being the only urban rail network in the city.
Israel has 48 airports, the largest and most well known being Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) located near Tel Aviv, which is used by most international flights to Israel. In 2011, Ben Gurion Airport handled 13 million passengers, making it the second-busiest airport in the far Eastern Mediterranean (behind Antalya Airport and tied with Cairo International Airport). Non-stop flights from Israel travel to North America, Europe, the Far East, and neighboring countries in the Middle East. Scheduled domestic air service is available between Tel Aviv's two airports and Haifa, Rosh Pina, the Golan Heights, and the southern city of Eilat. Some international charter flights also land at Ovda International Airport and Eilat. A new airport is to be built 20 km north of Eilat to replace the existing Ovda and Eilat airports.
According to the Israel Civil Aviation Authority, as of 2012, Israel's civil aircraft fleet consisted of 59 aircraft; 56 passenger planes, and 3 freighters. 48 of these were Boeing jets, 2 Airbus,8 turbo-prop produced by ATR,and 1 Embraer jet. the Israeli airlines orders another 2 embraer jets, 1 atr jet, 5 airbus jets, and 10 boeing jets, which means that the Israeli Airlines orders 18 jets. the estimated number of aircraft that Israeli Airlines will have in 2017-2018 is 65-70. Airlines include El Al Israel Airlines, Sun d'Or International Airlines, Arkia Israel Airlines and Israir Airlines. Boeing estimates that 60-80 new aircraft will be purchased by Israeli airlines over the next 20 years.
Ports and harbors
On the Gulf of Eilat:
- Total: 18 ships (with a volume of 1,000 gross register tons (GRT) or over) totaling 716,382 GRT/845,053 metric tons deadweight (DWT)
- Ships by type: Cargo ship 1, Chemical tanker 1, Container ship 16 (2006)
There are currently six tourist and leisure oriented cable car systems in Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories: In Haifa connecting Bat Galim on the coast to the Stella Maris observation deck and monastery atop Mount Carmel. In Kiryat Shmona, linking it to Menara 400 meters above the town. There are several chairlifts and cable cars in the Mount Hermon ski resort in the Golan Heights. The historic site of Masada, near the Dead Sea, has a cable car system to enable tourists to quickly reach to mountain top site. In the Superland amusement park near Rishon LeZion; and in the Rosh HaNikra grottoes site, a chalk cliff and cavernous tunnels on the Mediterranean cost. A public transport-oriented cable car is being developed in Haifa—the Haifa Cable Car.
There is a growing awareness in Israel that the common use of private automobiles is having many negative effects. An effort is now being made to make Israel a "greener" country in its modes of transportation. There is increasing collaboration between transportation professionals, politicians, and environmental organizations to work towards increasing the accessibility of public transportation, cycling, and walking in order to lower the use of private vehicles. One organization that works towards this goal is Transport Today and Tomorrow. Based in Tel Aviv, this organization works with a dedicated community of professionals and activists whose aim is to make public transit the dominant mode of travel and commuting in Israel.
In 2006, the Segway scooter was approved for use on sidewalks and other pedestrian designated locations, as well as roads that have no sidewalks, obstructed sidewalks or sidewalks lacking curb cuts. The user must be over 16 years old. No license is required. The maximum allowed speed is 13 km/h (8.1 mph), enforced by electronic restriction put in place by the importer. Companies offering tours of Jerusalem use the second generation i2 model, equipped with Lean Steer Technology that facilitates ski-like steering.
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