Riding public transportation in Israel can often be more than just a way of getting from here to there. Sometimes it’s possible to just sit back and forget about everything and other times everything hits you in the face.
Take a recent attempt at getting home from a wedding for example.
Having hitched a ride from nearby Jerusalem to the first stop of the Jerusalem light rail near Mt Herzl/Yad Vashem, I realized I forgot to add money on my Rav Kav, the transportation pass everyone uses around the country. I needed to buy a train ticket from the automated machine by the stop but wasn’t familiar with the process.
As I was waiting for my change the last train for the night had come and gone and I didn’t realize my predicament until the computerized screen stopped listing how long a wait it would be until the next one.
However, as is the case with the Rav Kav the train ticket is supposed to be transferrable to the bus and visa-versa for ninety minutes so I didn’t think anything of it when I walked down the street to catch a # 35 Egged bus and handed the driver my ticket.
“This isn’t good,” the driver said holding the ticket in his hand like it was a dead fish that went bad in the fridge.
[The ticket needs to be validated on the train but says nothing about using it to go directly on the bus like a bus ticket can be used directly on the train.]
Bewildered, I asked how that could be the case if I had just bought it six minutes ago, just before midnight. He then proceeded to explain that the date on the ticket said the 9th of the month and even though it’s now the 10th -six minutes later, it still says the 9th and it doesn’t say the time of day so for all he knew I could have bought it in the morning (of the 9th).
On top of that if I had boarded a train and inserted it into the computerized payment system it would have validated and printed the time of day on the ticket as Egged bus tickets do but since I missed the train there were no details for him to go on.
Just then a young Hareidi kid tried explaining to him that he saw me buy the ticket just a short time ago but the driver kept talking, wanting me to understand how everything was my fault and if an officer steps aboard and starts checking tickets I’d have to pay a 150 shekel fine so I might as well pay for a new ticket.
Then the Hareidi kid saw an old Egged pass on the floor of the bus and suggested I check to see if it was still usable (within the 90 minutes).
When the driver heard, he lectured the kid giving him a serious guilt trip asking him if stealing was ok….
Meanwhile, I decided to take my chances and ride the #35 to the central bus station where I would catch the 74/75 home.
In the end I paid for a new ticket on the second bus and sitting down exhausted contemplated the situation.
Yes, I guess it was my fault for missing the last train which got me into that whole mess in the first place. I wasn’t able to validate my ticket and no one would believe me on the point of when I bought it.
All in all, I’m not sure how many people this happens to daily but I was one of the lucky ones to experience a new irony regarding the Egged/Citypass relationship or lack there of one. It’s definitely something to consider when midnight arrives and catching the last train might not be so simple…