If you have found yourself waiting seemingly forever for a No. 5 bus to Malha, you are not the only one. The express route from Jerusalem's central bus station to the Malha mall and the railway station was inaugurated when the Malha railway station opened in April 2005. The No. 5 bus provided a fast and frequent service along the Begin highway, and was a very convenient way to reach the mall from the central bus station. On several recent occasions I waited so long for a No. 5 to the mall that I gave up in frustration and took a 6, which goes via Beit Hakerem and Givat Mordechai, taking much longer. When I later acquired a printed timetable for the No. 5, I was astounded to discover that the bus runs once an hour, and only in the afternoons. Even worse, the times are not coordinated with the times of trains leaving the Malha railway station. The No. 5 from the central bus station arrives at the railway station some 35 minutes before the next train is scheduled to depart. In the other direction, the bus leaves the railway station exactly four minutes before the hourly train arrives. Thinking that perhaps Egged hasn't noticed that the train timetable was changed at the end of December, I put on my In Jerusalem reporter's hat and wrote to Egged, asking why the No. 5 now runs so infrequently and at such inconvenient times. Egged spokesman Ron Ratner replied that buses are run in accordance with passenger demand, and the small number of passengers using the route led to the cutback. He added that passengers wanting to go to Malha and the railway station can take a 6, which is much more frequent - every six or seven minutes in the morning rush hour and every 15 minutes throughout the day. He also said the 160 from the central bus station stops at Malha on its way to Kiryat Arba. He didn't respond to my remarks on the lack of coordination between bus and train times.

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