taking the plane or train to Singapore is the easy part. You give
the tickets to the counter staff and they shuffle you to the seat on
your plane, train or spacecraft. But you are worried about getting
around in Singapore. Perhaps you have heard of Singapore's great
public transport system. but that doesn't calm you a bit. Are the
taxi drivers those venomous sort that charge you double what locals
pay. What about the underground? (or affectionately known here as
MRT). Are they confusing lines to switch and millions of colour
codes? Fret no more. You are about to embark on Robin's guide to
Singapore public transport. (stop trembling, you gotto trust me!)
While efficient for the average man, the public transport system does not cater to the wheelchair travelers. The only way for someone in a wheelchair to get around is by car or taxi.
New Ticketing System (New)
The public transport recently gone through a revamp on their ticketing system. The new cards are 'proxy card' (Felica card by Sony) The cards are read by card reader using radio wave. There is no need for contact between the card and reader. The less technically savvy commuters are often seen 'wiping' their card on the reader to get a reading. You just have to tap the card on the reader surface and that will enable the electronic trolls to deduct the fares.
You can buy a single trip ticket, stored value ticket and the
Single Trip Ticket as the name suggest is good for one trip. You
pay a dollar deposit for the card and the fare. You get the deposit
back by returning the card to the ticketing machines after you reach
your destination in the MRT Station. For buses, there are no Single
Trip Ticket. You can pay by cash or get a stored value ticket or the
Stored Value Ticket is a card that cost S$5 (non refundable, yes
dumb business decision) plus the amount you wish to put into the
card. This ticket works for both buses and MRT. Using this card is
the same as the single trip ticket except that you do not need to go
to the machines.
The Visitors Card (TVC). It's a stored value card that allows you to travel on the MRT and public buses. It also acts as a discount card for attractions, guided tours, shopping malls, restaurants, night spots, hotels and etc.
TVC cost S$40 for a 3 day pass to S$200 for a 1 year pass (using the card to travel on the public transport may require you to add value to the card). You also get a free guide book among other freebies. Find out more here. The
More public transport ticketing info here: SMRT
Let's get the
facts right. Singapore's public transport are among one of the
easiest to get around. Let's talk about the few ways you can get
around here. There are the
metallic thingy with wheels)
Rapid Transport (The Underground, The Metro, Subway or
pay for the trip?
Yes, some of you
smart ass know it's by cash. There are actually more options than
that. (nope you can't buy the driver a drink). Other than cold hard
cash, there are some alternatives. First, you can pay on some taxi
by credit card. These taxi have those thingy that swipe you card
(they charge extra for that). However, if you planned to traveled
around here a lot by the bus and MRT, then you may want to invest in
a EZ link Stored Value card or the Visitors Card. It's a plastic
card with cash valued you prepaid. You used these on buses and MRT
so that you don't have to fumble with foreign looking coins dropping
S$3 instead of a few cents. The fare card can be bought at any MRT
station. Just go to the ticketing booth. The fare card has a range
of store value from S$10 - $50. You need to purchase the card for
S$5. Once you have depleted the value you can topped it off
with another multiple of $10. If your remaining value of the card
(say 20 cents) is less than the full fare ($1.50), the balance
required ($1.30) for the fare is deducted from the deposit. If you
decide you don't need the plastic thing again, you can either keep
it as a souvenir or go to the any MRT ticketing booth and get a full
refund of whatever value left on the card by returning the ticket except the S$5 you paid for the card.
The taxis that
are available here, are all from legitimate companies. All taxis are
metered. You only pay what the meter says plus some surcharge
imposed during peak hours, from the airport, into the city and so
on. These are clearly stated on a piece of notice in the taxi.
Taking a taxi is a no hassle & safe experience unlike some
countries in South East Asia. From 11pm till 6am, taxi charges are
increasing to up 50% more than usual. The surcharges are stated in
From Changi Airport to the City
Taxi fare from the airport to the
city is about S$15 (day), S$23 (around midnight) and takes about
15-20 minutes depending on traffic. Should you take the taxi to the
city? If you have 3 or more pax, it is definitely worth paying for
the convienient unless you are really tight on budget. If for any
reason, the taxi driver refuse to use the meter giving any excuse,
find another cab.
(Mass Rapid Transit) Kindly check the official
website for route map, fares etc.
You need to buy
a ticket for the train. It can be a single trip ticket or the store
value ticket I have mentioned above. If you are buying a single trip
ticket, You will need to get it in the station. Get ready some coins
or there are coins changing machines in the station. Look at the
chart in the station to determine your fare. Go to the ticketing
machine, slot those coins in and press the button with the amount.
(nope, there aren't any cherries spinning round) The ticket will pop
out together with any change. The fare will cost anything from
S$0.60 to S$1.90 depending on distance. You also need to add a
refundable $1 for the card. This can be refunded at the ticketing
machines location at the station you alight.
To use the
tickets (either store value or single trip) for the MRT, look for
the square card reader on the top of the gate, tap the card on the
card reader. When exiting the gates, do the same and the gates'
troll will let you pass. If you are using the single trip ticket,
your will need to proceed to the ticketing machine for a refund of
the deposit (Read below).
There are 5 main
lines right now. North & South, East, West and Northeast. these
lines are also denoted by the colour If there is a need to
change from east/west bound train to north/south or to the Northeast
Line or vice versa, there are a few station to change from. These
are called interchanges There are the Dhoby Ghaut, City Hall,
Raffles Place, Outram station. There are announcements on the train
to tell you where you should changed. Anyone surviving the
underground system in London will find this a piece of cake.
From the Airport to the City
The East/West line has been extended
that you can now catch the train from Changi Airport to the City.
The fare from Changi Airport to say City Hall MRT Station is only
$1.40 (as of Jun 2002). You might need to change trains at Tenah
Merah Interchange to make your way to the city.
The first train
starts around 6am and the last train is around 12 midnight. The time
extend till after midnight on weekends. Check out their website
for the schedule for each station. Interval for each train is from 3
mins to 10 mins depending on the time of the day.
trying to show you all the possible fare, check out the fare you
need to pay on their website
One more thing, no consumption of food and drinks (if you are really
thirsty, drinking that Evian is okay) are allowed in the station or
on the train. Smoking is prohibited. Such offences carry a fine of
at least S$500.
wasn't so bad.
service Singapore. You need to know the bus no. and where to get on.
This is because the same bus on the opposite direction of the road
goes to different end of the route. The frequency of buses is about
10-20 mins. To know which bus to take and where you can either buy
and refer to a bus guide available in any MRT station or bookstore.
There are also information stands on most bus stops which you can
refer but it only shows buses traveling on that route.
Paying the bus
fare is easy. Get the exact coins ready and slot it in & retain
the ticket they issue. You can also pay with the EZ Link or Visitors
card. For the bus, tap the card very much the same way as on the MRT
except that the reader is placed upright. Tap the card again when
you exit from the bus this is important!
The system works this way - Full maximum fare is deducted from the
fare card when you board the bus, when you alight from the bus and
tap the card again, the actual fare is then calculated and the
balance is refunded.
If you are
paying by coins and do not know the fare, ask the driver and he will
advice you. Most drivers are polite enough to tell you where to
alight if you are seated near them and ask them to do the favor.
consumption of food and drinks are allow in the station or on the
train. Smoking is prohibited. Such offences carry a fine of at least
Car rental is expensive in Singapore because the prices of car
is. A 1.6L Auto Toyota Sedan cost around S$60,000. Typically rental
cost about $100 a day. Unless you have special reason to do so, use
the public transport or even the taxi to get around.
The New Fare
The new card
system was set up to ease ticketing and faster human traffic getting
in and out of the buses and trains. In my humble opinion its is a
downgrade from the previous system. It cost more for the passengers
and is more inconvenient to travel with a single ticket. The
rationale for the change is to reduce fare cheats costing the
transport company S$13 millions annually. The investment of S$300
millions for this system means a ROI is 23 years long. Wow! I will
get fired if I proposed something like this in my company.
Last Edited 09 Jun 2004