Monday, June 06, 2011

Riding Sherut around Tel Aviv



Sherut, the bright yellow-colored min van operating as a shared taxi service, is a popular transportation means in Israel and one of the most visible vehicles in most of the streets, boulevards and highways in and out of Tel Aviv. Unfortunately however, they do not include Yerushalayim Street in Jaffa where I lived in their usual routes and so I had no other choice but to take the autobus when going to Allenby or Tachana Merkazit. [The picture here shows a sherut in Tachana Merkazit (Central Bus Station) turning right at the corner, presumably to go straight to the sherut terminal].

But from these points, there are plenty of sheruts to take. Number 4 from Allenby brings passengers to any point along Ben Yehuda Street. On the other hand, the Sherut (no 5) that starts its route from Merkazit will take you all the way to Bnei Dan Street, where the HaYarkon Park is located. You can take No. 5 if you need to go to Dizengoff Main or in any of the upscale boutiques that line Dizengoff Street.

It is also in Merkazit where one can take the sherut going to Jerusalem. You only need 20 Shekels, which is the Israeli currency, to pay the fare to Jerusalem. I guess it must cost much more now because the last time I took sherut to Jerusalem was in 2010. I should say that it is definitely a much faster way to go to the Old City, which is more or less, 30 minutes, as compared to taking the air-conditioned buses.

Needless to say, sherut is one of the most convenient ways of going around or even touring Tel Aviv. Many Israelis are quite dependent in this taxi service. In fact, sherut is one of my favorite means of commuting around the city. It is fast, convenient and needs only 10 or 11 seats to fill up. Best of all, it doesn’t have its own stop, which means if you are a passenger, you can get off wherever you want – just remember to say “Ani po” to the driver, which is Hebrew for “I am here.”

On an occasion of riding the sherut, there was a passenger standing up on the aisle of the vehicle. While I should say he did quite a good balancing act, I do not know if this is permitted. But I think it is in the discretion of the driver if he would allow a standing (hunched is more like it as I believe it is not possible to stand straight inside) passenger. As it turned out, another passenger got off upon arriving at the nearest block. Apparently the driver intended the vacated seat for the poor passenger.

To the uninitiated, it is a rule to help in moving the fare from back passengers to the driver. So do not be embarrassed to extend your arms. If you position yourself at the back, it is alright to tap at the person in front of you and give him your money. He will do the same to the person seated in front of him and so on until your money finally reaches the driver.

What’s great about the sherut is that they ply their routes even on Shabbat, not like the autobus, which disappears from the streets starting at 5 PM of Friday afternoon. However, you must be ready to shell out more than the usual fare, up to double the amount, you take the sherut on Friday afternoons, Saturdays and Jewish Holidays. Indeed, with autobus out of sight during these days, sherut is one of the few options left to go around the city, and a convenient one at that.
Image credit: isotype75

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