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Egged Bus

A Ride Like No Other: Bus Nine Forty Seven from Netanya

by Rhonda Spivak, posted Feb 25, 2013

I spent a day last week going to Bethlehem in the new unilaterally declared state of Palestine, which I will write about. Getting to Palestine was the easy part of my journey. The much more difficult part was getting from Netanya to Jerusalem.
I awoke very early by 7 and walked to the Netanya bus station, which has been completely remodeled a couple of years ago, arriving by 7:30.  I asked the clerk at the bus ticket counter for a ticket to get the bus to Jerusalem. He took my money and told me it was bus no: 947 and then directed me to platform one. After I waited about almost a half an hour, bus no: 947 arrived. I don't know what made me do so, but just as I got on I asked the driver to confirm that he was heading to Jerusalem. He said "No, I am going to Haifa." I said, "Yeah but this is bus no: 947." He replied, "Yes, but this is bus no: 947 to Haifa, not bus no: 947 to Jerusalem." I turned around, as did some others behind me who had also obviously been told by the ticket clerk that this was going to be bus no: 947 to Jerusalem. The bus driver motioned that I should go stand in the line at platform number four instead of one.
As I began looking for platform four, I began thinking that here I was, with two university degrees, a mother of two, and I wasn't smart enough to properly maneuver the Netanya bus station. Of course, I began thinking why it was that Egged had decided to refer to two of their buses as 947. Wouldn't it have been easier to have called one of them 948 or any other number?  Had there been two bus number 947's since the founding of the State, or even during the British Mandate, and no one had thought to eliminate confusion by changing one of the numbers? Could I be the only one in the whole country who had noticed this problem?
Sure enough I got to platform four and there was no one there (since I had probably just missed the bus!). I went back to the ticket counter to inform the clerk that he was sending people to the wrong platform, the one that was bus no: 947 to Haifa, not Jerusalem (As I took a closer look at the signage on platform one, I also noticed that nowhere at all was there any indication that this was a platform to go to Haifa. Quite the opposite, the sign on the platform said this was a platform to go to the Negev and Eilat).
I got to the ticket clerk and told him he was misdirecting people. He vociferously denied doing so. "But you're sending people to the wrong platform--to platform one and not four," I insisted. He shook his head--"I know what I am doing," he said. "I have been working here like this for 20 years!" [It was difficult to restrain myself from laughing. Twenty years is a long time to be sitting at a ticket counter. I think I have an idea why he wasn't promoted. He's been sending people to the wrong line for twenty years!].
[As an aside, for those of you who are wondering why I wasn't taking a sherut mini bus, it was because I had tried that the day before. A woman in front of me started to eat a sandwich and the driver wouldn't leave until she stopped. "What do you think this is, a restaurant," he glared at her. While they were fighting over her sandwich, the man behind me started to complain "Nahag, it's too hot in here." (I was tempted to yell out to the driver, "What do you think, that it's a sauna in here?"].
Anyway, back to bus no 947. It was so slow and round about that I began thinking it was really bus no: 1947, not 947---and that it was retracing the 1947 partition line.
Then an American teenager who doesn't speak Hebrew gets on the bus and presents the driver with his ticket. The driver refuses to accept it, saying it's the wrong one. The American is confused--"But I bought a round trip ticket. I am going back to Jerusalem." The driver answers, "No you didn't. You bought two one way tickets. You could have taken two people on the trip down here, but you don't have a ticket for the way back. You'll have to buy another."  The driver refuses to let the kid exchange the ticket to get what he really meant to buy.  The kid pays again and I hear him swearing under his breadth Fu....!
I was about to tell him. Cheer up Lad, Things could be worse. You could have gotten on the bus no: 947 to Haifa.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.