Egged's monopoly ends, Superbus taking over Jerusalem lines in late 2021

The results will be improved transportation around Jerusalem.

An Egged bus in front of the Jerusalem Central Bus Station (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
An Egged bus in front of the Jerusalem Central Bus Station
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
For decades, the Egged logo has been synonymous with public transportation in Jerusalem, even if locals like to complain about the service from the country’s oldest and largest bus company.
However, the Transportation Ministry is expected to announce in the coming days that Egged’s monopoly in the capital is about to be broken, with Superbus to take over some of the city’s bus routes toward the end of 2021.
Starting in November, Superbus will take over about 25 routes in the center of the city, with the goal of running more than 50 lines, including at least 17 new routes, within two years. The change will vastly improve Jerusalem’s bus service, insiders say.
“In the early days of the state, Egged had a monopoly all over the country, except for in the Gush Dan area,” explained Elad Malka, a Jerusalem city councilman from the Hitorerut Party. “Over the last 30 years, that started to be broken up everywhere, except in Jerusalem. It seems that no one ever imagined that there could be multiple bus operators competing inside one city.”
But the lack of competition meant that Jerusalemites couldn’t do anything about the poor service they were getting.
Elad Malka, Jerusalem city councilman from the Hitorerut party (Credit: Reuven Kopitchinski)
“There are routes where buses are supposed to come every 12 or 15 minutes, but they really come every 45 or 50 minutes,” Malka said. “When we received access to the full data, we saw that 40% of all rides came late, and 12% of rides didn’t even happen.”
The problem, Malka said, is that Egged doesn’t have the resources to provide the service it is required to do, and wouldn’t acknowledge the problem. “So we started a Facebook group called Egged Watch where we asked people to report their complaints, and we would send a report every two weeks to the Transportation Ministry. Finally, after a long campaign, the ministry finally agreed to launch a tender.”
The tender divided Jerusalem into three parts, Malka said. The southern part of the city will remain with Egged, and the tender for the center area was won by Superbus. A tender for lines in the northern part of the city will end in March, with a winner to be selected by the summer, Malka explained.
The results will be improved transportation around Jerusalem, Malka said. “There will be new, more efficient lines added, and the lines that exist will run more frequently, to the extent that the total number of kilometers traveled every day by bus will double.
“Currently, a lot of Jerusalem’s bus lines travel through the center of the city, which adds to congestion and makes them all take a lot longer. We will add new express lines that connect centers of employment with residential areas directly, so that, for example, a ride from Har Homa to Givat Shaul will take 30-40 minutes, instead of several hours.
“And breaking up Egged’s monopoly means that if there is poor service, a line can be transferred to a new operator.”