To avoid getting scammed or winding up in the wrong place, here are some useful words to keep in mind the next time you take a taxi in Israel.
1. “Please turn on the meter.”
Keywords to know: מוֹנֶה – meter
It’s always a good idea to make sure your taxi driver has the meter on. If it isn’t, they are likely doing it to get a higher price out of you than the ride is supposed to be.
2. “How much will this ride cost?”
Keywords to know: מְחִיר – cost
Avoid situations in which you arrive at your destination, only to be asked to shell out five times as much money as you thought the ride was going to cost. Make things clear before you even get into the taxi, so you’ll have an idea of how much your ride will cost before you commit to accepting it.
3. “Here’s the route I’d like us to take.”
Keywords to know: דֶרֶך – route
If you want to make sure the taxi driver takes the shortest route, show him/her the route you’d like to take on your phone. Then it’s perfectly clear to everyone where you want to go, which means no (potentially expensive) detours.
4. “Where’s the best falafel around here?”
Keywords to know: הֲכִי טָעִים – most tasty
Transliteration: hah-chee tah-eem
Taxi drivers know their city better than anyone else. You just might find a new hidden gem!
5. “Those bus drivers are crazy, right?”
Keywords to know: מְשׁוּגָע (m) מְשׁוּגָעת (f) – crazy
Taxis and buses seem to have a feud against each other. They’re always getting in each other’s way on the busy streets and wind up in honking battles.
6. “Can you turn up/down the air conditioning?”
Keywords to know: מַּזְגָּן – air conditioning
No shame in simply asking your driver to kindly adjust the temperature to what feels right for you.
7. “How much time approximately?”
Keywords to know: ?כַּמָּה זְמַן בְּעֵרֶךְ
Transliteration: kah-mah zmahn beh-eh-rech?
Does it feel like your ride is taking a bit longer than usual? No shame in asking your driver how much time you’ve got left until you reach your destination.
8. “Thank you!”
Keywords to know: תּוֹדָה רַבָּה – thank you very much
Transliteration: toh-dah rah-bah
A taxi driver’s job is incredibly stressful, since they have to deal with heavy traffic jams, demanding work hours, and frequent rude and/or inebriated customers. So, never forget to thank your driver and let him/her know you appreciate their services!
9. “Driver, can you turn here?”
Keywords to know: נָהַג (f) נַהֶגֶת (m)- driver
Transliteration: nah-hag (m) nah-heget (f)
It’s (weirdly) acceptable and polite in Israel to call a cab or bus driver nahag, as opposed to “sir” or “mam” or other names that would be considered more polite in other places.
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