The complete newbie’s guide to Singapore’s public transportation
So you’re here.
Fresh off the airplane (or boat), in a completely foreign land, you need to get to where you’re going. In a city like Singapore, the best way around is the public transportation.
How to pay?
First up, you’ll need to be able to pay for the transport.
Image Source: Lucky Plaza Singapore
EZ-Link cards are one of the most common mode of payments for the bus and train services. It can be also used to pay for some taxi services. The card is a contactless stored value card that you can top-up once it runs out.
You can get an EZ-link card at most MRT (Mass Rapid Transport, the train system in Singapore) stations, convenience stores and translink ticket offices that are situated at some MRT stations and bus terminals. There are top-up stations for these cards at all MRT and LRT (Light Rail Transport) stations, and bus terminals.
There are concession passes for adults, children, students, senior citizens, National Servicemen, Persons with Disabilities and Workfare Income Supplement recipients.
Most credit, debit and ATM cards in Singapore offer NETS FlashPay. Haven’t got a bank card with NETS FlashPay? Click here to learn how to get one or a NETS FlashPay card.
Now you can obviously fork out cash to pay for transport, but it is a hassle. For buses, expect to carry the exact fare (prices can be found on information boards at bus stops) or overpay, as the bus drivers do not carry change for you.
As for trains, you will have to buy the standard ticket for single or return trips, and it can be used up to six times. Price of the ticket depends on the selected travel destination, and it includes a 10-cent deposit which is refunded upon the 3rd trip. Riders also enjoy a 10 cent discount on their sixth trip.
Types of Transport.
1. MRT (Mass Rapid Transport)
The MRT is the train system in Singapore that connects almost all of the country together. Currently, there are 5 MRT lines and 3 LRT lines and they’ll get you to most places. The 3 LRT lines are located at the Bukit Panjang, Punggol and Sengkang vicinities. MRTs can get to you most heartlands and areas-of-interest in Singapore without much of a hassle.
Taking a bus in Singapore is pretty simple. Locate a bus stop, and it’ll have information boards that detail out the routes of the buses that stop there. To plan your journey easily, use Google Maps/Apple Maps on your smartphone, and it’ll tell you which bus to take to your destination.
There are night bus services that goes from a central area such as Marina Central Terminal or Resorts World Sentosa to the heartland areas. The Night Rider bus runs from 11.30pm to 2am, and it costs $4.50 per trip. Whereas the Nite Owl bus operates from 12am to 2am at $4.40.
Two companies run the bus service in Singapore; click here for SBS and here for SMRT bus information.
You can take a taxi by flagging them down, calling or booking it through an app. The flag down fee of the taxis range from $3.20 to $3.90. There are surcharges for peak periods, public holidays, late night bookings and certain areas in Singapore. Do check with the driver what payment options they accept. While most taxi drivers accept everything from cash, credit cards, NETS, EZ-link and more, some only accept cash.
Grab and similar car-hailing are apps that allow you to hire a car right from your phone. They work slightly different than generic taxi services as there is no metered fare. When you key in a destination, a fixed fare is shown and any surcharges or extra charges are included in that fare. Their payment options include cash, credit cards and in-store credits. Grab even offers a point-based reward system that you can exchange for vouchers or goods. (Check out why Grab makes our 10 must-have app list here.)
Update: We’ve removed Uber from this list after their sale of the company to Grab.