The big bus that could

A-Maze Escape Bus: A unique initiative that brings the escape room experience into the bus.

Escape room with a twist: The A-Maze Escape Bus at the First Station (photo credit: PR)
Escape room with a twist: The A-Maze Escape Bus at the First Station
(photo credit: PR)
Most people look at buses and think transportation.
Why would it serve as anything else other than a vehicle to get people from one place to another? But to Ofir Peled and Yehonatan Yosef, both 25, a green Egged bus with 51 seats had the potential to be something more.
“We’ve always had crazy ideas, so turning a bus into an escape room didn’t exactly surprise our family and close friends,” says Peled in an interview with In Jerusalem.
Escape rooms, which were first created in Japan in 2007, are physical adventure games where players are locked in a room that follows a particular theme, whether it be a science lab, space station, dungeon, prison cell, etc. To “escape” the room, the players must work as a team to solve clues, riddles and puzzles within a limited amount of time.
Indeed, Peled’s and Yosef’s finished A-Maze Escape Bus, which has been repainted from the signature green Egged color to red, has been operating for the past two months in the First Station.
“There was something about this idea that we took more seriously than all the other interesting ideas we’ve had previously. We wanted to create something unique and innovative – an escape room with a twist,” says Peled as we enter the bus, which has been completely redesigned and renovated from the inside.
Peled and Yonatan started their project by searching for a bus across Israel. Although they had no idea where to start, they started looking at the classified advertisements website Yad 2, as they would if they were looking to buy a car. Eventually, they reached out to bus companies and got a positive reply from Egged, which had a bus originally from Ashkelon that was no longer in use and available for sale.
“Rent costs for space to be used as an escape room are high,” Yosef points out. “Using a bus was a much more cost-efficient way for us to go,” he says.
The entrepreneurs first met when they were highschool students at Mae Boyar High School in Jerusalem.
Following their IDF service, the two worked in different fields, with Yosef in the field of business and Peled in entrepreneurship.
Once they had bought the bus with their army savings, they set to work on it.
“We had to take out the seats and strip the interior.
We brought in experts when we needed further assistance and knowledge in electronics and building design, but most of the work we did ourselves,” says Peled.
“We learned that you can’t use plaster walls in a bus, as its design isn’t suited for that kind of material.”
“There were many moments when asked ourselves what we were doing,” says Yosef. “It was a very intensive experience. Our lives centered around the bus.”
“We did everything on the bus, including the planning and redesigning alongside sleeping, waking up, eating and thinking. Every part of this bus, from the seats to a small screw, has a story behind it,” Peled elaborates.
The only thing the two couldn’t do with the bus was drive it. A special license is required by law to drive passenger vehicles. Peled and Yosef are now working on obtaining a different license suited to the current status of the bus, which would enable it to be driven from place to place.
The two spent one year and four months working on completing the project, which is much longer than the usual two to six months needed to finish an escape room according to Yosef.
“There are around 200 escape rooms in Israel,” Yosef tells IJ. “But not one is placed on a bus. We had to figure it all out from scratch.”
Figuring it all out was part of the process that the two enjoyed.
“I was happy to get up, knowing that I was doing something that I liked, and not waking up to a regular desk job,” says Yosef. “I worked for a while in Tel Aviv and saw that it wasn’t for me,” he said. “Working on this bus, I got to learn new things every day and develop myself in the way that I wanted to.”
In addition to designing the bus, Peled notes that he and Yosef spent countless hours planning the puzzles and riddles for the escape room itself. Partially inspired by the 1994 movie Speed, an action thriller starring Sandra Bullock, Peled says that the participants’ objective is to neutralize a terrorist organization’s use of unconventional weapon warfare through a series of clues and puzzles.
“The idea is that you have to help save the world from the hands of terrorists’ who are planning to use unconventional weapons,” says Peled.
“We’ve had really great responses from participants,” he says.
“The escape room poses a real mind challenge for players.”
The A-maze Escape Bus, which retains some of the original bus parts, including the air-conditioning fixtures, is suited for two to six players from the age of 13 and up. Minors under the age of 16 require an adult chaperon. There is also a format available for children to play. The players are given around 75 minutes to figure out the puzzle.
Peled and Yosef recently showcased their escape bus at the Cyber Security Conference in Tel Aviv in partnership with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
“That was one of the highlights for us since we started on this project,” says Peled. “To partner with the Shin Bet was an amazing experience.”
While they have not ruled out attending university in the future, the two believe that their experience in building an escape room has been invaluable for their future.
“Right now our decisions are proving themselves,” says Yosef.
“We will see where the future takes us and how far our escape bus can go. We haven’t chosen the traditional path that most people follow but we think that this is the right way for us.”
The two plan to have the A-maze Escape Bus reach different points across Israel, including hi-tech companies and conferences, as well as high schools and tourist areas, providing team-building activities for everyone.
“There were many times that we questioned ourselves during this project. But what I’d like to say to young entrepreneurs who are just starting out is that in this field it’s not enough not to give up; you have to have a strategy and know what you want to achieve,” concludes Peled.
To reserve a spot on the A-maze Escape Bus at the First Station, contact Ofir Peled and Yehonatan Yosef at