Getting around Singapore: All you need to know about the transport options in this city-state

Singapore is definitely one of the most well-planned cities in Asia. 

It has a highly penetrative and reliable transport network – wherever you are, rest assured that there is an MRT station or bus stop just within walking distance of you. You can use Google Maps or Gothere.sg to search for the fastest and most convenient route to where you want to go! 

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Aerial view of Singapore CBD. Photo courtesy: Asia Green Buildings

Here are the transport options for you: 

Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) 

The metro system (MRT and LRT) spans the entire island. The trains are a speedy and comfortable way of whizzing around the city and heartland areas. The LRT and some newer trains are driverless trains. 

You can access the MRT & LRT maps here

One can buy tickets for single trips, but if you plan to use the MRT service frequently, getting an EZ-link card will save you quite a bit of money. 

It is a contactless smart card that can be purchased at any TransitLink Ticket Office or Passenger Service Centre; these can be found at any bus interchanges and MRT stations. Simply top up at least S$10 at the counters or at the automated ticketing machines, and you are good to go. 

All the trains and stations are accessible to the physically disabled, as well as families with strollers. 

If you are just visiting on a holiday, you can buy a Singapore Tourist Pass. It is a special EZ-Link stored-value card which will allow you unlimited travel for one day (S$10), two days (S$16) or three days (S$20). 

The cards can be bought at the TransitLink Ticket Office at the following MRT stations: Changi Airport, Orchard, Chinatown, City Hall, Raffles Place, Ang Mo Kio, HarbourFront, Bugis, Lavender and Bayfront. 

Buses

If you haven’t heard, Singapore is “fine” city – the government imposes a penalty fee of S$4,000 on bus operators for every six-second delay! 

The bus networks are extensive, and buses are punctual and fully air-conditioned. You can buy a ticket on the bus, or use your EZ-link card to pay the bus fare (which is the cheaper option). 

There is a variety of mobile apps that you can use to find out bus timings. These include SG Buses, Singabus, SG BusLeh, SG NextBus. If you happen to understand the local Singlish creole, Bus Uncle app is an entertaining way to retrieve the bus arrival times.

All buses are accessible to the disabled, and the bus drivers are always friendly to offer their help! 

Taxis    

Taxis in Singapore charge by the meter, and there is an almost zero chance of you ever getting cheated as compared to other countries. Taxi stands are often found outside shopping malls, and right next to bus stops and train stations. 

Additional surcharges may also apply (e.g. peak period, late night hiring surcharges). The total fare will be reflected on the taxi meter. You can ask for a receipt as well. 

Getting a taxi in Singapore is relatively easy, except (ironically) when it rains. So on rainy days, you can book a ride through ride-hailing apps like Uber or Grab! 

Car ownership

Due to Singapore’s limited land size, there is a need to control the number of cars on the roads. 

The Singapore government’s Vehicle Quota System makes sure that car ownership in the country comes at a relatively high price – to encourage people to take public transport instead.  

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Smooth roads, smoother traffic.

In addition to paying for what is called the Open Market Value (OMV) of the car, one has to pay for Certificate of Entitlement (COE). 

COE depends on the size of the car, based on the car’s engine volume and the horsepower. Currently, the COE ranges between S$49-51k, and it’s only valid for 10 years. This means that your Toyota Altis, which would cost about S$33,000 in India, will result in a S$113,000 loss from your bank account in Singapore. 

But the great thing is that cars here just don’t get dirty or scratched as they do in Delhi. If you love cars Singapore is the place to enjoy them. You can relish the drives along the Orchard Road area, or on the eastern side of Singapore where streets are wider or make road trips to neighboring Malaysia or the slightly farther Thailand. 

Author
Kareyst Lin
Kareyst Lin – Senior Writer

Kareyst has experience in writing about B2B technology for Computerworld Singapore, MIS Asia and CIO Asia; and on government technology for GCIO Asia. Her pet areas are artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and smart cities - these are fueled by her obsession with sci-fi movies and philosophy of mind. 

Sometimes she writes with light. 

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