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Living in Singapore - Transport System

Public Transport in Singapore: Your Guide

Singapore has an excellent transport system, with an efficient bus and train (the MRT) systems, and an abundance of taxis which are very reasonably priced. Here’s the lowdown of the public transport system. There is a separate guide for driving in Singapore if this is what you are looking for.

Buses and MRT trains

The coverage around Singapore by bus and MRT is fantastic.There are a total of 102 Stations on this small island alone and thus making the Singapore rail network one of the most dense train network in the world. Some of the stations are barely a 5 minutes walk from one another, making it almost possible to travel solely using the MRT. With MRT also announcing the addition of the new Downtown line which is to be completed by 2025, the network is only going to get better.

For those coming from hubs like New York or London, you will be pleasantly surprised to hear that the MRT is air-conditioned! Both arrive and leave from stops frequently and on time until the early hours. First things first: get an EZ link card for S$15 (S$5 deposit and S$10 of  credit) and save yourself a lot of cash.  The card also gives an additional discount every time you change from a MRT to a bus or vice versa. These orange cards can be picked up at any MRT station or at 7/11s. The SMRT web site has information on fares, travel times, and the MRT system map.

Peak Hour Travel

During the morning hours, from 8am to 9am, the trains might start to get a little crowded. Train commuters will happy to know that the MRT provides free trips to the city core for early birds. For more information on this initiative, visit the LTA.

Living in Singapore - MRT System


Getting a taxi is a simple and very reasonable task, compared to the price of everything else in Singapore. Taxis can be hailed from the side of the road, approached at taxi stands or booked both online or by phone.  Significant surcharges apply when taking them from the airport and other popular destinations. Other surcharges also apply if getting a taxi at peak periods – Monday to Friday 6am-9.30am and 6pm-12 midnight everyday (including public holidays).

Taxi fare starts at S$3.00 – S$3.40 for the first mile and you pay S$0.22 for every 400m traveled up-to 10km, and S$0.22 per 350m thereafter. Some taxis like a Mercedes or a London cab start at a higher rate of about S$3.90. You can hail a cab on the road or call their number (S$2.30 – $3.30 extra) to book a service. During peak hours (weekday mornings 6:00am – 9:30am and evenings through Sundays 6pm – 12 midnight), you will incur extra charges of about 25% of the fare while the late night surcharge (from midnight until 6:00am) is 50% of the metered fare. There are location-based surcharges that apply in the CBD area (S$3 on Monday to Saturday, 5pm until midnight) airport (S$3-S$5), etc. You may also have to pay any ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) charges on selected expressways during certain peak hours.

Useful Tools and Links

bus arrival board in singapore

Estimate time of bus arrivals displayed at selected bus stops.

Note: Both calculators do not include time waiting for trains or buses. For that, you will separately use another application. The train arrival times are displayed at every train station. As for bus services, there are electronic boards displaying arrival times at certain selected bus stops. You can be assured that the arrival times are usually pretty accurate.

Check bus services, fares and travel times here.

Calculate your train fares and travel times here. (use Internet Explorer for this tool)

Check your train arrival times here.

Check your SMRT bus arrival times here.
Note: Only SMRT Buses displayed here. To get the full list of buses, you will have to download one of the many free apps available to check arrival times.

For those travelling by Taxi, check how much it will cost you and how long it will take.

2 Responses to Public Transport in Singapore: Your Guide

  1. catherine December 3, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    taxis for $5? i thought living in singapore was supposed to be expensive!

  2. Aby Mathew April 12, 2013 at 2:53 am #

    Taxis are not cheap anymore and they are not easy to come by either. During peak hours, which seem to be most of the day these days, they can become quite expensive and it is very difficult to get one. Booking one by phone or smartphone app used to be convenient till about a year ago.
    Singapore is losing the charm and simplicity that made it a nice place to live many years ago. Its fast becoming just another crowded and expensive city.

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