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Singapore Transportation Guide

MRT Taxis Buses Trolley Trishaws

Public Transportation
Singapore's public transport makes it one of the most inexpensive and easiest and cities to explore. Together with its small size and comprehensive and well coordinated transportation network - featuring a 85 km subway / light rail (MRT) system with 51 well placed stations, some 25,000 taxis and over 2,800 buses passing every few minutes there is no reason to rent a car and since nearly everyone in Singapore uses public transport it's a great way to mix with locals.

Take Notice
That said, be advised that there are stiff fines for littering, smoking, eating and/or drinking in MRT stations and on board trains and buses. No excuses.

Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) 5.30 am - 12.30 am (19 hours)
Clean, safe, well-lit, punctual, air-conditioned and very inexpensive, the Singapore MRT is what every city rail system should be. Coverage is not as extensive as the bus system but is more than adequate for most tourists. In the city centre the MRT is underground and above ground in the outlying suburbs. Access often allows you to walk under the street in safe, well lit walkways (especially nice during a rain shower). Routes and fares are well marked and easy to follow. Fares range between SGD 0.90 (one station to the next) upwards - i.e. from Orchard Road to Changi Airport is SGD 1.70 (Dec. 2006).

To use the system for the first time you will need to buy a farecard known as an EZ-Link card. Visitors can buy an EZ-Link card at any MRT station for S$15. This includes a S$3 deposit which is refunded when you return the card. There is a non-refundable amount of S$5 for the card cost and a travel value of S$7 to start with. The minimum top-up is S$10. Any unused value is refundable as well. The card may also be used on any public bus.

Tap the card in the designated area on the top of the turnstile to enter the train area and likewise tap the card on the turnstile at your destination to exit. Same for buses - when entering the bus tap the card on the specially designed card reader near the driver and at the rear door when exiting.

For what it is worth, visitors may also purchase a single trip farecard known as a Standard Ticket for the exact amount of the fare displayed. Standard Ticket farecards are only good for a one way ride on the day purchased. When you purchase such a farecard there is a SGD1.00 deposit added to the cost of the trip. This SGD1.00 is refundable at the ticket counter at any MRT station.

Click here for MRT route map

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Singapore Taxis
Over 15,000 air-conditioned cabs provide comfortable, hassle-free travel at a very reasonable cost. All taxis are metered and taxis operate 24 hours a day. All drivers are courteous and know where they're going. There are designated queues in front of major shopping centres to hail a cab or go to any hotel entrance.

Comfort Cab operates the largest fleet of cabs under the Comfort Cab and Yellow Top brands and current (Mar. 2008) flag-fall is SGD 2.80 - SGD 3.00 for the first kilometre and SGD 0.20 for each 385 metres up to 10 kilometres. As well there are 'limousines' (basically Mercedes and other luxury cars used as taxis) that can also be flagged down on the street. Such limousine taxis are about 10% more expensive than a standard cab.

Be advised that there several additional (and confusing) charges levied i.e. Airport Pickup, Peak Hour, ERP Zone, Late Night Surcharges etc. By and large there is a 35% surcharge for all fares from 7:.00am - 9:00 am and 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm and a 50% surcharge from 12:00 midnight to 6:00am. Airport pickup surcharge is SGD 3.00 Monday - Thursday and Friday, Saturday and Sunday until 5:00 pm. After 5:00 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday the airport pickup surcharge is SGD 5.00.

However fares and surcharges can change without notice so for a complete list of taxi fares and surcharges please click here.

Lastly, a red destination sign on the dashboard indicates that the driver's shift is ending and will only pickup passengers going in the same direction and may refuse passengers not going in the same direction.

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Singapore Buses
Buses are a great way to see Singapore. Cheap, reliable and with extensive coverage you can easily get to almost anywhere. If you find yourself needing to use the bus / MRT extensively you should consider buying a TransitLink card, (see above) which can also be used on the MRT. Major bus routes are listed below.

Bus fares depend on trip length and currently range from SGD0.80 - SGD1.50 There are two bus companies in Singapore. If you need specific directions and fare information contact Singapore Bus Service (SBS) at 1-800-6287-2727 or Trans-Island Bus Services (TIBS) at 6482-3888.

Buses take paper and coin currency but you do need exact change - drivers do not make change. SBS buses 16 and 36 run between Orchard Road and Changi Airport.

Popular Tourist Singapore Bus Routes Click here

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Singapore Trolley
Mostly a tourist thing but fun nonetheless, these red tram buses run between the Orchard Road shopping belt, the Colonial District, the Singapore River, Raffles Hotel, Clarke Quay, Marina area and Suntec City. You can get a day pass for this trolley for SGD 9.00 and hop on and off as you wish - a one time use costs SGD 3.00.

Be advised that the Singapore Trolley is different from the SIA Hop-On bus.

Singapore Trishaws
Another fun ride is the trishaw. Especially popular around Bugis Junction, trishaw drivers can also be found around Orchard Road. Better at night, it's an interesting way to tour the streets of Singapore. Routes are fairly standard but if you want to go someplace special make sure you know where you want to go and then strike an agreement on the fare before you hop in. Check with your hotel for more details.

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Singapore Hotels - Typical Singapore trishaw
Getting Around

Singapore is a nice place to walk, with shaded boulevards, fragrant flowers, disciplined traffic and colourful shop fronts. There are plenty of maps available with walking tours outlined. Best of all, walking around Singapore is very safe at any hour and unlike most places in Asia Singapore drivers are very courteous and give pedestrians the right of way. Be advised that traffic is on the left so always look to the right before crossing.

Once you are in Singapore you'll most likely start using the subway (MRT). If you'll be around more than a few days here's a good idea for those who want to explore Singapore by bus or MRT: Buy a EZ-Link or TransitLink at any MRT station. The card is good for use on buses as well as on the MRT. When you board the bus or MRT just tap the card on the top of fare validator and likewise when you exit the bus or MRT and the fare is automatically deducted from your card's balance (and the balance will be shown on the display. Initial purchase price is SGD 152.00 with a ride value of SGD 7.00. If need be you can add money to the card without having to buy another. Don't use it up? No worry, you can be reimbursed for any unused amount at any MRT station or, better yet, take it home - it's a nice souvenir.

Please remember that the whilst all care has been taken in assembling this information, routes, operating hours and transport fees may change without notice.

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