Written by: Marissa Saini
Singapore is one of the most well-connected cities in the world with a world-class public transport system that could whisk you anywhere you need to go on the 721.5 square kilometre island – all at an affordable fee. There are two main modes of public transport you can take to get around: trains – otherwise known as Mass Rapid Transit or MRT for short – and buses.
1. Mass Rapid Transport (MRT)
Singapore’s MRT system is hailed as a fast, efficient, and affordable way to travel anywhere around the island. The MRT system is extensive enough that you’ll only need to walk a short distance or take a quick bus ride once you’ve alighted at your destination. Drop by any train station and you’ll find six different lines which are colour-coded.
Different MRT Lines
- Green: East-West Line
- Red: North-South Line
- Purple: North-East Line
- Yellow: Circle Line
- Blue: Downtown Line
- Brown: Thomson-East Coast Line
- To date, there are now over 130 stations across five MRT lines island-wide. The latest line, Thomson-East Coast Line, is still under construction and set to open in five stages starting from this year to 2024.
- The MRT system spans over 200km!
- Over three million commuters take the MRT on a daily basis.
How to take the train
If you’re planning to commute to work or school regularly, you need to get an EZ-link card. It is a stored value card that lets you pay your fare by simply tapping on the gantry.
- Buy an EZ-link card from any of the 42 TransitLink Ticket Offices and six Concession Card Replacement Offices around the island.
- Top up the value of your EZ-link card through the EZ-Link app, General Ticketing Machines at bus interchanges and train stations, TransitLink Add Value Machines at selected venues, 7-Eleven convenience stores, ATMs, and AXS Stations.
- Tap your card at the gantry to enter the platform.
- Walk to the platform that indicates your destination’s MRT line. For instance, if you’re heading to Orchard, you would need to take the train along the North-South Line – or red line, in short.
2. Light Rail Transit (LRT)
If you are living in a Housing & Development Board (HDB) flat, you may chance upon the LRT, a fully automated rail system that links commuters from selected MRT stations closer to their homes. You’ll find these mini versions of the MRT at Bukit Panjang, Sengkang, and Punggol.
The public bus is an inexpensive and reliable mode of transportation in Singapore that will take you practically anywhere you need to go around the island. They’re also hard to miss – the most recent models come in a lively lime-green colour. There are a total of four different bus operators, namely SBS Transit, SMRT Buses, Tower Transit Singapore, and Go-Ahead Singapore.
If you’re not in the mood to squeeze in a carriage with throngs of commuters – an inevitable outcome if you’re travelling on the MRT during peak hours – the bus is an excellent alternative. What’s more, you can also take in the sights of Singapore’s natural foliage that gave the garden city its name.
Similar in procedure to how you would need to take the train, buses require commuters to tap their EZ-link cards on the reader as you board. Alternatively, you can pay for your ride with cash – but you’ll need to pay the exact amount as there’s no change provided. Commuters can also pay with a foreign-issued Visa or Mastercard.
- There are about four million public bus rides taken each day.
- From 2016, newer public buses come equipped with USB charging ports for commuters to use if their phones are running low on battery life.
Well-connected, comfortable, and wallet-friendly, it is easy to see why Singapore is famous for its top-notch public transport system. Whether you’re planning to go car-less or own a car when you relocate here, you are never too far from a reliable MRT station or bus stop. Keep an eye on the operating hours, which usually start around 5.30am to midnight. If you’re planning to paint the town red till the wee hours in the morning, booking a cab home is your next best bet!
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