no 7 bus 248.88.
(photo credit: Sarah Levin)
Bus No. 7 is perhaps the most cosmopolitan of the local bus lines operated by Egged in Jerusalem. Starting at one end at Kibbutz Ramat Rahel, going past the Diplomat Hotel in Arnona, through the city center and Romema and ending at the Har Hotzvim hi-tech compound in the northern part of the city, the line serves elderly olim from the former Soviet Union, Anglos living in Baka and a melange of passengers in the city center.
Recently, the 7 has also been subjected to the caprices common to so many of the bus lines nowadays. In fact, the change in the bus route was accepted with some relief by its faithful passengers. After years of unexplained disregard for King George Avenue, a situation that caused too many defections by passengers who couldn't walk the distance between its stop on Jaffa Road all the way up to the Yeshurun Synagogue, someone at Egged finally took pity and added a stop near Hamashbir.
As usual, the blessed change was not widely publicized, but the faithful congregation of No. 7 users, especially the early birds, did not let their peers down. This journalist - and passenger - bore witness to the incredible way it worked: Users of the line who still didn't know about the new bus stop were hailed by other waiting passengers while schlepping themselves down King George Avenue and were updated, their attention drawn to the new stop.
But as we all know, good things tend to come to an end all too soon. That was the case of the No. 7 bus stop at Hamashbir. Hardly enough time to get used to its convenient existence - and poof! End of story.
Well, not completely because here again, the alternative can honestly be
considered a real improvement. Line No. 7 passengers are in fact discreetly invited to stop sacrificing their money on the altar of Western consumer perdition sites and discover the joys and cheaper opportunities offered by the Mahaneh Yehuda market. As of two months ago, the 7 has changed its route again. Now instead of getting lost in the nightmare of the roadworks of the main street of the city, it easily climbs up Rehov Agrippas en route from the Binyenei Ha'uma stop and picks up the market's customers, sparing them the long and winding way up to the former King George stop.
Well, at least this time wide publicity was given to the new route, perhaps because this time it was not only a change in one line but part of a larger plan. Three new lines (the 71, 72 and 75) and a similar change in the 74 route between Binyenei Ha'uma and the city center.
As stated before, the line starts at Kibbutz Ramat Rahel and ends up far in the north of the city. From the kibbutz gates, the bus descends Rehov Ein Gedi, crosses the "bank junction," to Derech Beit Lehem, stopping at the post office, continues up to Liberty Bell Park, reaches the city center, crosses Mahaneh Yehuda on its other side, and once it passes the Central Bus Station, makes its way through the northern haredi neighborhoods before reaching Har Hotzvim.
This rather long route explains the expected delays in the line's schedule.
But the problem is that there are already too many delays at the beginning of the line, such as between Ramat Rahel and Rehov Betar, where there have never been any traffic jams, thus trying the patience and the good manners of many of the passengers.
Officially, the bus runs rather frequently, especially in the mornings. But in reality, the frequency depends on various factors, and not all of them areâ€¦ how shall we say?... easy to grasp. Here is an example. "There's a traffic jam," the driver responded to an angry passenger who inquired about the reason for his 25-minute delay. "There are never any traffic jams here," was the passenger's retort. And the driver? He didn't even bother to explain.
But the "nudnik," one of the regular elderly olim from the Diplomat Hotel, one of the few of the group who managed to master a few sentences in Hebrew and dared to complain, nevertheless felt that he had fought for his constituency's honor.
It turns out that the decision to express his dissatisfaction to the driver was the result of many days of debate among the waiting passengers. "We wanted to be sure that one of us would represent us in good Hebrew so we would be considered," one of the women in the group explained to me.