I'm starting from the assumption that one is not allowed to catch a bus on shabbes, but would like to know why. Excluding issues pertaining to the purchase of tickets or the use of passes, potentially tangential problems such as carrying tickets or money where there is no eruv, and the avoidable problem of pushing the button to indicate where you wish to get off, what are the problems with riding on the bus?

Is it simply a case of mar'is ayin? Is it because my added weight (however infinitesimally) increases the payload of the vehicle and causes it to burn more petrol? Or are there other reasons as well?

For the sake of an argument, I am assuming that the driver is not Jewish, and that neither are (at least some of) the other passengers.

  • this is a dupe...
    – sam
    Jan 30, 2017 at 1:27
  • I know of rabbis who have allowed catching a bus on shabbos under certain extenuating circumstances (not pikuach nefesh).
    – Daniel
    Jan 30, 2017 at 1:30
  • @sam - I'll delete it if it is: I searched but didn't find it. What's the link?
    – Shimon bM
    Jan 30, 2017 at 1:33
  • this article reviews the bus-based halachot jewishlinknj.com/features/…
    – rosends
    Jan 30, 2017 at 1:39
  • 1
    @ShimonbM If it turns out to be a duplicate, please don't delete it. It would be a valuable pointer for others trying to find an answer.
    – Scimonster
    Jan 30, 2017 at 5:23

2 Answers 2


It isn't allowed for Jews who wish to keep full observance. There is some debate that is ongoing about certain details. (because what is Judaism if not people arguing about the minute details)

With regards to the reasons why this would be in violation of Jewish law? The list is as follows.

  • The driver desecrating the Shabbat by starting the vehicle, driving, opening doors, handling money and going out of the city limits (Tchum Shabbat) both for himself and for another Jew. Even if the person is not a Jew, the person is being used by a Jew to circumvent the rules of Shabbos. This is a violation of Jewish law. It would be like asking a non-Jew to turn on/off the lights. The act is considered you breaking the rules through a proxy.

  • Buying tickets, electronic cards or tokens. (Just listing it as part of the whole. I understand you specifically excluded this)

  • Putting in a token or scanning the electronic card in the machine to pay for the ride or to leave the station. (same reason as above)

  • Handling Mukzeh (money etc).(same reason as above)

  • Carrying money, credit card, token or ID outside of the Eruv.

  • Ringing the bell to get the driver to stop.

  • Pressing a button to open the doors of a train and subway.

  • Going through an electronic turnstile at the entrance/exit of the station.

  • Marit Ayin (rabbinic enactments that were put into place to prevent a third-party viewing one’s actions from arriving at the incorrect conclusion that a forbidden action is permitted.

  • Desecrating the “Spirit of Shabbat”.

  • 1
    I'm not personally familiar with all these laws (and i suspect the asker isn't either, since they have a question). It would be helpful for everyone if you edit your post to include sources for whatever you are able to. TIA.
    – Scimonster
    Jan 30, 2017 at 5:17
  • Sources would improve this answer... Re: 1st had the Jew not gotten in, nothing changes. So essentially the driver is not doing this melacha for the Jew. He's doing it for himself (his job) and the general public. So it's not like asking a non Jew to switch on the lights. Jan 30, 2017 at 14:33
  • I'm puzzled as to why the 1st item is any concern. A city bus will be travelling on its own route picking up and dropping 0ff non-Jewish passengers. It is, therefore, not doing anything specifically for Jews. The one problem may be if the Jew is the only one waiting or leaving at a specific stop. Which, leads to a possible leniency if a Jew waits at a stop where a Gentile is waiting or uses a stop where the bus would stop anyway, such as the terminal stops.
    – DanF
    Jan 30, 2017 at 15:52

Look, as for buses, I'm sure it's not. For all the reasons mentioned above by someone called TheSicilianJew. Because buses are what they are. Unless it's a special kind of bus, such as the lifts used during Shabbat in some buildings. They're not a problem. If your bus is a device for horizontal transportation the same way those lifts are for vertical, it's all right. Nevertheless those buses could not go further than allowed walking distance.

  • As written this is more of a comment. An answer should give some details behind your reasoning as well as sources for your answer. Jan 30, 2017 at 21:48

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