Travelling around the island-nation of Singapore is seemingly a piece of cake. The transport system in the city that is spread over the entire island has a precision akin to that of a clockwork and boasts immaculate efficiency. Convenient, reliable and safe, if you travel for an hour on the MRT service or bus from the city center- Orchard Road- you will find most places to be located nearby. However, by avoiding rush hour traffic during weekday mornings and evenings, you will be able to reach your destination in a much shorter time.
There is an integrated and well established public transport network in place in Singapore. Known as Transit Link, it integrates networks, information and fares of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) systems in the city along with the Tibs and SBS bus networks. Going through a map detailing the routes of the various means of public transportation in Singapore will help you to save time when you will be required to depend solely on this system for getting around the various places in the city.
Public transportation in Singapore, comprising of an extensive and highly penetrative system, is made up of three different means: taxis, buses and the Mass Rapid Transit train network. By far, buses lead the way in terms of popularity followed by the tax and MRT services. Almost every corner of the city is served by the public bus network while for travelling during peak hours, people usually prefer the MRT service that offers efficiency and speed.
Getting around in Singapore
Let us now take a look at the various transportation modes in Singapore in detail.
Bus Service in Singapore
There are two different operators in the city who offer bus services- while the SMRT runs yellow buses, the distinctive red-and-white buses are operated by the SBS Transit company in Singapore. Both the operators have their very own bus interchanges and route networks all over the city so that commuters are not, in any way, inconvenienced.
While the normal services stay in operation up until midnight, there are special services that run through the night. Travelling by bus at night is a little more expensive while you are required to pay more for availing the air-conditioned services.
Feeder bus services can also be found in the city. Most of them usually travel along a small circuit of roads such as through an entire housing estate and terminate at one of the many bus interchanges that are spread all over Singapore. There are also other bus services such as Bus Plus which is a premium service and offers commuters much more in terms of shorter travelling time, better comfort and convenience. With the MRT service yet to operate over an extensive network, reaching the far ends of Singapore is possible only by means of cab or the bus services.
If you observe closely, you will realize that the citizens of Singapore share a typical love-hate relationship with the bus system and it is not too difficult to decipher the reasons for the same. To start with, the waiting time at the bus stop tends to be pretty extensive. While in theory a bus should arrive after every fifteen minutes, you may have to wait for more than half-an-hour depending on the traffic situation on the city streets. As if that were not enough, services during peak hours run packed to capacity and it becomes impossible to travel during those times of the day. The ugly behaviour of the citizens often come to the front during these hours and it does not make for a pleasant travel experience for the tourists.
Nevertheless, the bus service in Singapore remains one of the most cost effective means of travel in the city while also allowing you to get an insight into the lives of a varied cross-section of people living in the region.
LRT and MRT in Singapore
Work on the first MRT lines in Singapore, that were to run in East-West and North-South directions, began in the year 1982 with the undertone of a massive project that would cost as much as five million Singapore dollars. Ever since, the service has undergone mass expansion and gone on to serve a whole new generation of commuters. A new line was constructed that would connect the stations of Jurong and Woodlands to the west and north of the city. A few years later the Northeast line was added to the network so that the new housing estates along Sengkand and Punggol would be connected to downtown Singapore.
The Circle Line, which began operations as recently as 2010, has cut down on the overall travel time by allowing commuters to bypass such busy interchanges as Raffles Place and City Hall. This orbital line is completely underground and serves as a link to all the radial lines that lead to the city. It also has interchanges with the North-East, East-West and North-South lines.
While in theory the MRT service is well over two decades old, periodic facelifts and regular maintenance has served to mask its age. For the citizens, imagining a time without the MRT service is next to impossible. An indispensable way of transport that carries you over from one end of the city to another, the MRT service is the best means of transport for reaching the downtown areas of the city such as the Central Business Districts and Orchard Road where traffic is heavier than usual.
The Light Rail Transit system has been a recent addition to the public transport network in the city. It operates mostly within the limits of Singapore city itself and is availed by those who wish to travel to other parts of town after switching over from the MRT service. Punggol, Sengkang and Bukit Panjang housing estates are the only areas where this LRT service has been started.
Travelling by trains offers a distinct advantage in that you are not required to wait at any traffic intersections or even get stuck in traffic congestions on the city streets. Also the LRT and MRT services are pretty cheap compared to some of the other means of public transportation in Singapore. However, they too get over-crowded during the peak hours- an aspect that may be put down as one of the many issues of urban living.
Trolley bus service in Singapore
An enjoyable hop-on, hop-off service that runs through Singapore city is the Singapore Trolley Bus service. It is in operation along the Boat Quay, Tanjong Pagar and Orchard Road areas. For those looking to take a tour of the shopping districts around Singapore and explore the entertainment and cultural hotspots around town, this service makes for a good option. If you are planning on going shopping during the daytime and pub-hopping after nightfall then this is the best means to get around the various destinations around Singapore.
Taxi service in Singapore
Taxis in Singapore are available round the clock and allow travel through the city at reasonable rates. With more than fifteen thousand such public carriers plying the streets, getting hold of a taxi is not an issue- you can either flag one down on the streets or pick them up from designated taxi stands that can be found at numerous locations throughout Singapore. You can book these services at any hour of the day. Be careful with the surcharges that get levied on the journeys as they may often exceed the normal fares of your journey.
If you wish to drive around Singapore on your own vehicle, cars are available for hire at numerous car rental outlets around the city. However, you will be required to produce a valid international driving license for the same if you are hiring from an international car rental service. The local providers will ask you to produce a national driving permit besides the international license. While driving on the outer edges of Singapore is not an issue, entering the streets in the central districts during rush hours is a veritable nightmare! So if you are keen on avoiding the mad rush of traffic in the region, it is advisable that you make the most of the extensive and well-organized network of public transportation in Singapore.