To get started on the right foot here’s your induction into the wonderful world of public transport Singapore from the MRT to taxis!
So you’ve settled into your new abode – now it’s time to explore the (not so) big city out there! To get started on the right foot here’s your induction into the wonderful world of Singapore’s public transportation system.
Conveniently located within walking distance from Singapore’s key attractions, the Mass Rapid Transit (aka MRT) is the easiest way to get from point A to point B in a jiffy. Most trains and stations are accessible to wheelchair users, the visually impaired, and families with strollers – talk about easy breezy!
Trains run from 5.30am to about midnight daily, with periods extended during some public holidays. Expect trains to arrive every two to three minutes at peak times, and every five to seven minutes off-peak. For easy reference, the MRT consists of five colour-coded lines – North-South (red), North-East (purple), East-West (green), Circle (yellow) and Downtown (blue). An extension of the Downtown line, including stops at Fort Canning, Jalan Besar, Bedok Reservoir, Tampines West and Expo, is slated to open in late 2017.
On a smaller scale, the Light Rapid Transit (aka LRT) is a feeder service railway that takes you closer to home in some residential neighbourhoods. Hop onboard and travel to neighbourhood estates in Sengkang, Punggol and Bukit Panjang.
Click here for the MRT and LRT map.
Fares and tickets
If you’re sticking around longer in the city (like us), save all the hassle by getting an EZ-link card or a Nets FlashPay. These handy cards allow you to travel via train or bus by tapping on card readers when entering or leaving the station or bus, charging commuters based on distance travelled. You can get one of these bad boys at any Ticket Office or Passenger Service Centre counters at MRT stations. Top up with cash or card at ticket machines, AXS stations and 7-Eleven stores. You can also top up EZ-link cards on the go with My EZ-link Mobile app or EZ-Reload.
Standard single-trip tickets can also be purchased at ticket machines for $1.40 to $2.50 (including a $0.10 refundable deposit). For friends visiting this tropical island, a Singapore Tourist Pass is a great welcome kit! The card offers unlimited train and bus rides from $10 (including a $10 refundable deposit) for a day.
Ensure your EZ-Link card has sufficient value before tapping at the entrance gates. Trust us, holding up a line of angry commuters is not the best start to a Monday morning. Avoid the “priority seats” on trains designated for pregnant women, the elderly and disabled, unless you’re feeling unwell yourself. If the train gets busy, move further into the carriage to allow other commuters in, and avoid crowding at the door. It’s every woman for herself during peak hour, so don’t be afraid to elbow your way into the carriage and nab yourself an overhead handrail to cling on to.
Feast your eyes on Singapore’s charming streets! While far more complicated than the MRT network, buses in Singapore are aplenty with several serving similar routes. Plus, most buses are wheelchair-accessible and air-conditioned – sweet!
Familiarise your destination and check out detailed bus routes located at every bus stop, or handy apps such as SBS Transit iris, SG NextBus and MyTransport Singapore, providing you up-to-date info on bus routes and timings. Similarly to trains, buses run from about 5.30am to 12.30am. If you’re out past your bedtime, hop onto the SBS Transit Nite Owl and SMRT’s Night Rider services.
Fares and Tickets
As mentioned, you can totally pay your bus fare by simply tapping your EZ-link card, Nets FlashPay or Singapore Tourist Pass on the card readers located by the driver as you board. However, do remember to tap out again on readers by the exits when alighting the buses. If you’re stuck without one or one that’s low on funds, prepare small change in coins and ask the driver for the fare before paying.
Yellow seats located in the front section of buses are designated for pregnant women, the elderly and disabled. If you’re caught standing up, be sure to hold on to those handrails tightly. Bus drivers in Singapore are notorious for hitting the brakes hard.
Compared to cities like New York, Hong Kong and London, taxis here are affordable – but highly unreliable. With an unyielding demand for these guys, flagging a taxi can be akin to waving your arms at a visitor at a blind convention. So if you’re rushing off to an all-important job interview, factor in plenty of idling time just to be safe. Alternatively, you can queue up at taxi stands found at most shopping malls, hotels and tourist attractions. Or you can book a cab by calling 6-DIAL CAB (6342 5222), and your call will be directed to an available taxi company’s call centre.
Fares and Payment
Handy when travelling to places that are inaccessible by bus or train, all taxis go by metre with flag down rates starting from $3.20. There are surcharges for peak hour, travelling to the airport, passing under the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) toll system and pre-booking. Payments can be made via cash, credit card, Nets or CEPAS stored-value cards, including some EZ-link cards (check for the logo at the back of the card to ensure it is). However, these are subject to availability of such payment devices in the taxis, so be prepare to make an alternative payment!
For booking purposes, have the taxi booking numbers saved into your phone. Get the numbers here or list of taxi apps here. During peak hour, festive season and rainy days, we recommend booking a taxi at least half an hour in advance. Here’s a (not so) fun fact: it can get especially tough to get a cab when drivers are changing shifts or it’s close to the witching hour (they prefer to pick up passengers after midnight for the surcharge). Cabbies will roll down their windows and you’ll be expected to shout out your destination. If your answer pleases them, you’re in!
For more info, visit the Land Transport Authority website.