In 2002, there were an estimated 15,965 km (9,920 mi) of paved highways, including 56 km (35 mi) of expressways. With the building in 1957 of a highway extension from Beersheba to Elat, the Red Sea was linked to the Mediterranean. Trackage of the state-owned railway totaled 647 km (402 mi), all standard gauge, in 2001. Railways, buses, and taxis formerly constituted the principal means of passenger transportation; however, private car ownership nearly tripled during the 1970s. In 2000 there were 1,754,058 motor vehicles, including 1,422,032 private cars and 322,026 trucks, taxis, and buses.
As of 2002, Israel had 16 merchant vessels, with a total capacity of 593,319 GRT. Haifa can berth large passenger liners and has a 10,000-ton floating dock, but Ashdod (south of Tel Aviv) has outstripped Haifa in cargo handled since the early 1980s. Elat (Eilat) is also a seaport with full freight services.
Israel had 54 airports in 2001, 28 with paved runways. Israel Inland Airlines (Arkia) provides domestic service. Israel Airlines (El Al), which was founded shortly after Israel became a nation in 1948 and is almost entirely owned by the government. Ben-Gurion International Airport between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is the center of passenger and cargo operations; Israel is building a new Ben-Gurion International Airport Terminal. Another principal airport is J. Hozman at Eilat. In 2001 3,989,500 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.