SAPTCO stands for Saudi Public Transport Company. It was established in 1399H (1979CE) and provides transportation services within the country. Importantly, SAPTCO provides a bus service between the cities of Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah, the three main cities visited by pilgrims.
SAPTCO's normal bus service
SAPTCO runs a regular bus service between the cities of Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah. The cost of travel between Makkah and Madinah (and vice versa) one-way is 65 SAR (12.50 GBP / 18 USD). The regular bus service is fairly no frills, with limited leg room and no food or drink served (so you are advised to bring some with you!).
The journeys commence from the main bus station, the details of which can be found below. Bus tickets can be purchased from SAPTCO bus stations. Alternately your hotel's concierge may be able to arrange the purchase of tickets for you.
There are a total of 17 departures daily from Makkah (Al-Haram Bus Station) to Madinah. The journey is timetabled to take around 6 hours.
The normal bus service departs from Makkah to Madinah at the following times all week: 01:00, 06:15, 06:45, 07:30, 08:30, 09:30, 11:00, 13:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30, 17:30, 19:30, 21:00, 22:00, 23:00 and 23:59.
There are a total of 16 departures daily from Madinah to Makkah (Al-Haram Bus Station). The journey is timetabled to take around 8 hours (this includes a number of stops and should include a stop at the miqat at Dhu'l-Hulayfah).
The normal bus service departs from Madinah to Makkah at the following times all week: 01:00, on the hour from 07:00 until 12:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:30, 17:30, 19:00, 20:30, 21:28, 23:00 and 23:59.
SAPTCO's VIP bus service
The information below is correct as of March 2016 - you are advised to check the latest bus schedules and prices at your local SAPTCO ticket office before travelling.
SAPTCO provide a VIP bus service (in addition to their normal bus service) between many destinations throughout the Kingdom. In particular they provide a VIP bus service between Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah.
VIP buses offer considerably better leg room, are direct journeys (the normal bus stops mid-journey) and include some complimentary food and drink. Ticket prices (one-way) vary depending on which day & time of year you're travelling but will be around 110 SAR-120 SAR. A discount is offered for buying a return ticket. The journeys are shorter at around 5 hours and in Madinah, the VIP bus also arrives much closer to the Haram.
There are four daily VIP services from Makkah to Madinah that run Saturday to Thursday at 09:00, 11:00, 17:00 and 22:00. On Jumu'ah the schedule is 09:00, 14:00, 20:30 and 23:30.
There are four daily VIP services from Madinah to Makkah that run Saturday to Thursday at 10:00, 15:00, 17:00 and 21:30. On Jumu'ah the schedule is 14:00, 15:00, 17:00 and 21:30.
Please note that the VIP bus station that was located close to the Dar At-Tawhid InterContinental Hotel (opposite Bab Malik Fahd) on Ibrahim Al-Khalil street has now closed. The VIP bus now departs from and arrives at the same location as the normal buses do at SAPTCO Al-Haram bus station, shown on the map below.
Please note that the station is just under a mile away from the Haram through congested roads and paths.
It is important to note that the ticket office in Madinah is located at the SAPTCO bus station not at the VIP bus collection/drop-off point.
The VIP collection/drop-off point at the Crowne Plaza is shown on the map below
The Madinah main bus station and ticket office is shown on the map below. Please note that this bus station and ticket office is just under 1 mile away from the Green Dome of the Prophet's Mosque.
SAPTCO's Updated Website
SAPTCO have recently improved their website and now offer a much improved English site too. The website also offers the opportunity to purchase tickets online although we've not tested this yet.
Alternative modes of travel
Taxis are readily available in all three cities. A private taxi (i.e. one that is not shared with any other random passengers) should cost you no more than 500 SAR one-way (Makkah to Madinah and vice versa). Shared taxis will cost considerably less (for example, a shared taxi/minibus between Jeddah and Makkah will cost only 10 SAR).
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Have you recently travelled using SAPTCO? What was your experience like? Are the details above up to date? Let us know in the comments below ...