Fresh on the heels of the successful Jerusalem Light Rail, which has been hailed by the capital’s residents as the “panacea” to all that ails the city, the PrettyPass company has unveiled its hovercraft link to Eilat, calling it “the obvious means of transportation to link Eilat from the center of the country.”For the past three years, unknown to the general public, company engineers and technicians have been holed up in a cave south of Beit Guvrin, where they constructed 30 hovercraft, capable of speeds of up to 250 kilometers per hour. Each triple-decker hovercraft seats 50 passengers and crew.
Nonstop journey time from Tel Aviv to Eilat – approximately 270 km. as the crow flies – will be just over 45 minutes, with hourly service.The first test run was carried out successfully two nights ago, but PrettyPass spokesman Whizzel Hadash said the company had deliberately not revealed anything in advance.“We know the public is used to hearing those tired old stories from other transport entities – which I could name, but won’t – that it will be ready this year, next year, sometime or probably never, and if it ever does materialize the reality never matches the hype. So we kept everything completely under wraps until we were ready to roll.”PrettyPass uses a revolutionary ticketing technology that took considerable time to develop. A ticket-seller sits in a little booth inside each hovercraft, and passengers can pay using cash or credit.Fares will be linked to the price of cottage cheese, with tickets priced at three times the cost of a 250-gr. tub. The test-run took place in the dead of night. The first hovercraft – having been transported the previous day on the back of a truck marked “radioactive waste,” to throw everyone off the scent – set off from a secret location near Ramat Gan at 1:30 a.m. and arrived in Eilat 43 minutes later.“It was a wonderful experience,” said passenger Shmulik Bar-Biturate, as he stepped out of the hovercraft in Eilat.“Instead of waiting 50 years for work to start on the railway to Eilat, here we have – up and running now – a much more cost-effective way of traveling. It’s one of those simple and obvious things that makes you wonder what took them so long.”Residents in the flight path slept through the test, completely unaware of what was happening only a few centimeters above their roofs. It wasn’t until Pnina Puffupsky of Ein Kronot went out of her house the next morning and found lying on the ground a small piece of cardboard bearing the words “Hovercraft test-run souvenir ticket” that she realized history had been made.“Even though I’m a very light sleeper, I wasn’t woken up by the hovercraft. This is definitely the way to go,” said Puffupsky, adding that she had already bought a hovercraft hofshi hodshi ticket.