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the commute

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When it comes to commuting, I have been spoiled.  When I was young I worked in a photo lab that was a 10 minute bike ride from my house.  When I taught in Chicago I literally taught in the building next to where I lived.  In the army I had a long commute (2 and a half hours each way) and I had one job in Israel that was 40 minutes away, but thank God, my current workplace is only a 20 minute walk from home.

Even though public transportation is fantastic in Israel, Israelis still have a long commute to work.  Last August there was an article in Ha’aretz that summed up our situation:

“Israelis… tend to spend a good deal of time traveling to and from work. As a consequence, they have little time left to be with their families, or for spiritual, sports or other activities.

Sixty-two percent of Israeli employees drive private cars to work. The remainder rely on public transportation (16 percent), walk (13 percent), or use transportation provided by their employers (6 percent); very few (3 percent) get to work on bicycles or motorcycles (according to data from the nonprofit organization Transport Today & Tomorrow). Around the world people spend, on average, 40 minutes getting to work. In Israel, however, the traffic jams along the Ayalon highway, Highway 4 and other routes leading to the central Dan region hold people up a minimum of one hour a day – in each direction.”

The tradeoffs are tremendous.  For many, living further away from work means more commute, which is less time for family, friends, or even a second job.  On the other hand, it may also mean a nicer neighborhood, cheaper housing, a better community, and better schools.  Alternatively, for those who want to live in the heart of it all, the higher living costs pay for time to spend with friends and family.  It all boils down to the basic principle:  time  = money (or in economic terms, everything has an opportunity cost).

Clearly this is a complicated issue where the ideal answer is to reach some sort of balance.  But no matter where you stand, the most important thing is to be aware of the tradeoff and understand not only what you sacrifice, but what you gain as well.

How does your commute affect your life?


  1. Genius says:

    public transportation is fantastic in Israel

    It is?

    Israelis… tend to spend a good deal of time traveling to and from work

    This really ought to be compared to how much time people spend getting to work in other countries.

  2. Hannah says:

    Genius, Jonny wrote the world average is 40 minutes.
    My husband used to spend close to an hour each way working in Tel Aviv. Now he works here, but his hours are longer.

  3. Avi Noam says:

    I work at home. So commuting takes approximately 10 seconds to roll out of bed. Wouldn’t it be nifty though, if the government reimbursed me for the fact I don’t spew gas for two hours per day on average into the environment while waiting on a clogged highway? How about the government force people to live closer to their jobs, or penalize them?
    It’s always bothered me that we don’t get paid for travel time to and from work. If your office is located somewhere obscure and I have to drive an hour there each way (even not in rush hour traffic), all you pay me is 5 NIS to cover bus fare…the opportunity cost and time wasted on buses/travel when one could be working, if taken into account properly, would surely have tremendous effects on our overall GDP.

  4. Devorie says:

    Public transportation in Israel is far from fantastic. Take the Jerusalem bus system, for example. Commuting from Gilo to Har Hotzvim takes over an hour and a half, while driving takes 15 minutes. There’s absolutely no reason that almost every bus in the city drives down the same crowded lane in the city center.

    It takes 35 minutes to drive from Lod to Jerusalem (including within-city driving), but over an hour and a half commuting. You need to take a bus to the Lod Central Bus Station, catch a bus to Ramle’s Central Bus Station, switch to a bus to Jerusalem’s CBS, and transfer there to another (and hopefully your final) bus to your final location within the city. Not only is that time wasted, but its also costly and very inconvenient. The train isn’t much better. I could go on and on with examples, but I’ll spare you the details.

  5. Avi Noam says:

    To get from Gilo to Har Chotzvim, according to Egged’s site, you take the 71/72 and it takes 45 minutes.
    I dunno, three times the time it takes by car to bus it seems reasonable to me…
    Check yourself before you speak lashon harah about Israel, specifically Jerusalem. We’ll read about the chet hameraglim (sin of the spies) soon in the parshat hashavua, I’d urge you all to use extreme caution in how Hashem runs things here in this country before you start bashing it. I for one can personally say the buses have NEVER let me down, though they sometimes take a bit more time than youd like.

    • jonnydegani says:

      I wouldn’t say that public transportation NEVER let me down. I have experienced plenty of busses not arriving on time and occasionally, not at all. Dan busses seem to be a bit more problematic than Egged, but in the past couple of years they have gotten better. Egged busses in Jerusalem have been trying to do better as well, but are struggling to keep up with the damage being done by the building of the train, which according to flyers I saw when I was Shana Bet in Yeshiva, will be completed in exactly 4 years go.

  6. Genius says:

    I’d urge you all to use extreme caution in how Hashem runs things here in this country

    Who’s that? The new head of the Histadrut?

    I for one can personally say the buses have NEVER let me down

    Are you a bus driver or something? I take the bus every day, and it lets me down ALL the time.

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