Getting Around Using Public Transportation in Singapore
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Getting Around Using Public Transportation in Singapore

There is a wide array of options available for taking public transportation in Singapore. Each of these services has factors in favour and against their use in certain areas of the island nation.

There is a wide array of options available for taking public transportation in Singapore. Each of these services has factors in favour and against their use in certain areas of the island nation.

There are three main options of public transportation available in Singapore; these are the bus, taxis and the Mass Rapid Transit system or MRT. Buses are by far the most used form of transport in Singapore; these buses operate to just about every part of the city and its surroundings. The MRT provides a speedy and efficient service especially during the peak travel hours.

Buses in Singapore are operated by two companies. SBS Transit run red and white buses while SMRT operate those coloured yellow. Both of these operators run their own services across the city’s network of routes. Buses begin at 5.30am and generally run until midnight. There are however limited bus services overnight and named Nite Owl and NightRider, these services cost slightly more than those offered during the day costing between S$1.50 and 3. The fares charged on the buses running during the day range from 0.67cents up to a little over S$1.50. Almost every bus operating in Singapore has the added comfort of air-conditioning.

There are also some smaller feeder bus services that charge the set price of 0.67cents and run through the residential areas and run usually only to one of the bus interchanges. Bus Plus is a service operated with commuters in mind; it is a premier service offering more comfort, convenience and shorter journey times. Despite the popularity of the MRT, buses continue to be an essential transport option to Singapore’s residents. This is mostly due to the MRT not yet reaching all areas of the island and tends to be concentrated around the city centre and its key locations. Many locals complain about the standard of service for buses should operate every 15 or 20 minutes but due to the traffic usually being very busy delays can lead to many having to wait often well over 30 minutes between buses.

Another complaint about the buses is how crowded they are. This is particularly prevalent during the peak hours of travel when many passengers are unable to gain entry to the bus due to their already being packed well past the number of passengers they were designed for. Despite the overcrowding during these busy travel periods the buses in Singapore remain as the most cost effective way to travel around the island nation.

The MRT first began operations in May 1982 at a cost of S$5 billion. It runs daily from 6.00am until 11.30pm. It began with a north-south and an east-west line, since its inception it has been extended to other areas including a link between the northern line station of Woodlands (the main terminus for trains to Malaysia) and the western line. The Circle line began operations in 2010 and reduced travelling time for many commuters and saved their having to use the busy interchanges in the centre of the city. The circular route is fully underground and links to each of the other lines radiating into the city centre.

Despite the age of the MRT it does not show any signs of age due to the regular maintenance and facelifts to keep the service up to date. It is particularly useful for travelling from one end of Singapore to the other especially at the peak hours when the road traffic is particularly heavy. The Light Rapid Transit or LRT operates with the MRT offering services to some of the city’s housing areas with stations shared by both services to enable switching from one to another when required.

Both the MRT and the LRT have the advantage to bypass road traffic during peak periods, they also offer a cheap service when compared to other similar operators elsewhere in the world. The biggest disadvantage is the service is not yet operational to all areas of the island. The trains can become very crowded in peak times, but they are very clean and well maintained within the air-conditioned environment giving a pleasant journey to your destination.

There are eight taxi companies operating within Singapore, they offer a journey of more comfort, privacy and generally a faster travel option. The majority of drivers know the best routes to avoid the traffic during the peak periods as well as being a host of information and gossip for their passengers. All taxis are operated on a meter, it is a fair and economical system although nor as economical as the service operated by the bus companies.

Taking a taxi in the peak hours will cost you more as there is then an additional surcharge of 35% of the metered fare, it will take you on average about half the time of the bus but between 5 and 10 times the cost. If you pre book or call for a taxi to come to you then an additional surcharge is added for this service between S$2.50 and S$3.50 depending on if it is off peak or peak times. Taxis can accept credit or charge cards for payment but you will be charged a 10% administrative fee. Taking a taxi between midnight and 6am will also cost you an extra 50% of the flat rate charge.

Other public transportation options in Singapore are available and these include Water Taxis that operate along the Singapore River. The service has 16 stops along the waterway and costs from S$2 to 8. Some of the boats used have air-conditioning and the water taxi across the river takes two minutes, a much faster alternative than taking a taxi. Most water taxis operate between 9.00am and 11.00pm, although a few begin from 7.30am.

For a traditional form of transport you could try taking a trishaw, this form of transport is a fun way to tour the streets of Singapore under the guidance of your chauffeur/pedaller. Singapore’s Trolley Bus service operates within the cultural, entertainment and shopping areas of the city. It is a hop on, hop off service and is ideal for shoppers during the day and those going pub hopping at night. The fare includes some discounts at a selection of nightspots along its route.

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Comments (2)

A very nice and useful account of transportation in Singapore.Thanks.

Very informative. Thanks for sharing

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