Singapore is equipped with well-planned road and transport systems that will get you around the city without much fuss. With its high interconnectivity and exceptional cleanliness standards, public transport is a very comfortable and cost-efficient way to travel here. And given the high costs of owning and maintaining a car in the city, public transport is the preferred mode of transport for many residents.
The MRT (or Mass Rapid Transit) system is probably the fastest and most cost-efficient method of getting around town. Complementing the MRT system is the LRT (Light Rail Transit) system, a smaller network of trains acting as a feeder service which allows commuters to alight closer to home. Most trains operate between 5:30am and 12:00am daily, with extended hours applied for certain festive periods. The normal frequency of trains is every 2-3 minutes during peak hours, and every 5-7 minutes during off-peak hours.
Singapore’s trains and stations are also designed to be accessible to wheelchair users, the visually impaired, as well as families with strollers. With a wide network servicing a large percentage of Singapore’s neighborhoods (and more stations currently being built), the MRT/LRT trains are a highly accessible and convenient mode of transport.
Standard tickets are available for single/return trips for short-term use, and can be purchased from ticketing machines or Ticket Offices in the MRT stations. For more frequent/long-term use, you can purchase an EZ Link stored-value card that you can top up in value as you use it. EZ Link cards can be purchased from Ticket Offices or Passenger Service Centres in MRT stations, and can be topped up at various outlets (e.g. Ticket Offices, General Ticketing Machines, 7-Eleven stores, SingPost outlets etc.).
With an extensive network of routes covering most of the city, Singapore’s public bus system is the most economical way to get around (though not always the most time-efficient). Most buses are fitted with ramps for wheelchair accessibility, and the Land Transport Authority aims to have all buses fully wheelchair accessible by 2020. Another bonus for the tropical weather of Singapore? All public buses are fully air-conditioned.
There are supplementary public transport bus services operated by private bus operators that offer more transport options for commuters. For those willing to pay a little more in exchange for more convenience and comfort, Premium Bus Services (PBS) offers a higher level of bus service with direct routes between major housing estates and the Central Business District/industrial business parks during peak hours. The Fast Forward Bus Service also operates only during peak hours, makes fewer stops, and has more flexible routing to avoid congestion, saving commuters up to 20% of travel time.
Bus operation timings vary depending on the route, operating anywhere within the ranges between 5:00am and 12:00 midnight. You can pay for your bus fares with cash (exact cash only, no change is given) and take the bus ticket as proof of receipt, or use your EZ Link card. For more specific information on bus timings, visit Mytransport.sg (https://www.mytransport.sg/), or download the mobile app.
Taxis are a highly convenient and comfortable way to travel around Singapore (especially for getting to places that are less accessible by train or bus) and are considered to have relatively low fares compared to that of other developed countries. While abundant in numbers, taxis can become scarce during morning and evening peak hours, as well as on rainy days. Taxis here are metered, though surcharges may apply depending on where and when you board the taxi, which company of taxi you are taking, and whether or not you used a booking service.
Taxis may be flagged down at any time of day from any public road outside of the Central Business District. To get a taxi within the CBD, look for an allocated taxi stand (available at most shopping malls, hotels, and tourist attractions), or call a taxi to your nearest car drop-off/pick-up point. Each taxi company has their own booking hotline, and some like Comfort Delgro also have a booking app available. Other useful services include UBER and GrabTaxi and may offer more competitive rates at certain times of day than a normal hailed taxi.
One of the most convenient ways of getting around that affords you total freedom in your plans is, of course, to own a car. However, cars are not cheap to buy or maintain in Singapore, and are considered a luxury that many can only aspire to have. For short term stays, a valid foreign license and an International Driving Permit (IDP) are required in order to drive in Singapore. If an IDP is not available, an official translation of the foreign license in English is required. In order to drive in Singapore after 12 months of stay, it is necessary to obtain a valid Singaporean driving license.
TRANSIT AND WALKABILITY RATINGS
For each Singapore neighborhood you'll see a Transit rating and a Walkability rating. The Transit rating tells you how good and reliable public transportation options are in that neighborhood. The Walkability rating tells you how many local amenities (shops, restaurants, fitness options, etc.) you can walk to in that neighborhood.
HELPFUL TRANSPORTATION WEBSITES
Gothere SG – An awesome site everyone should become familiar with (also available as a free app), Gothere SG offers detailed directions, live updates on public transport timings, and estimated travel times across various transport and route options. You can also make future travel plans by inputting your time of travel and date of travel in the fields provided and Gothere SG will let you know the best ways to get to where you want to be, how long it will take you, and even an estimate on what it would cost you.
Land Transport Authority – For more information on Singapore’s transportation systems.