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Living in Singapore

Singapore: Bus System & Light Rail Transit

The pivotal role that public transport in Singapore plays in the daily lives of the millions of commuters who depend on its reliability and availability throughout the island is obvious. We take a closer look at the two main options of public transport in Singapore: the MRT and bus systems.

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The Bus Network

Buses are by far the most widely available and easily accessible form of public transport in Singapore. As is the case with the MRT network, the bus transit system is split up between the two providers, SBS Transit and SMRT Buses, with several other small operators servicing certain routes. For all intents and purposes, however, you need not worry about which system operator handles which route. The fares are always the same and all providers are obligated to accept the fare systems, which we have taken a closer look at in the next part of this article.

The total number of routes is mind-boggling, and neighborhoods are often serviced by a wide array of different lines. Obviously it is both impossible and unnecessary to know all the bus lines. Just stick to those you will need for your daily routine and your leisure activities, and you will get around just fine.  

If you like to go out on the weekends (or the occasional weekday), you should make sure to get acquainted with the night services of the SBS and SMRT bus lines. As a rule of thumb, you can assume the last bus services to run from MRT stations until just around the last train of the day, which is usually between midnight and 1:00 in the morning.

Buses also enjoy a number of privileges on the road. Apart from the designated bus lanes which crisscross the country and can be used only by buses during rush hour, buses almost always have right of way when using regular roads and bus bays.

As with many other offences in Singapore, driving on the bus lanes during restricted hours (usually from 7:30 to 9:30 in the morning and from 17:00 to 20:00 in the evening) will lead to a hefty fine of 1000 SGD or three months of imprisonment. Public transportation is really of key importance, and the bus network handling some three million trips on an average day plays a pivotal role: its smooth operation is something worth enforcing to the Singaporean government.

Also similar to other means of transportation and keeping in line with the Singaporean way of handling matters, there are several rules and regulations to keep in mind at bus stops and on the bus itself. Some of the more obvious include the ban of food and tobacco, as well as certain areas in the bus where you may not stand. For a comprehensive list, please see the pages of SBS Transit.

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Supplementary Bus Services

There are a number of additional bus services primarily aimed at making the daily commutes of people in Singapore more comfortable, heightening accessibility, and prolonging the availability of services at night. As a rule, you can assume none of these additional services to be covered by any monthly or weekly pass you may have, you will be charged separately.

One example for additional services is the Premium Service Lines offered by SBS Transit. Here, commuters are bused from their respective neighborhoods or towns to the Central Business District in a swift and comfortable manner. These lines are fairly exclusive, as they are not only more expensive, but also seating-room only. The bus driver may not allow you to board when seating capacity is full.

Similar, but less exclusive: the express lines. As these lines make fewer stops than regular bus lines on the same route, commuting times are drastically shortened. Again, riding on such a bus will cost you extra.

When it comes to night services, you have the choice between the SBS’ NightOwl and the SMRT’s  NightRider lines. While these ensure that you will be able to get from the central district to the suburbs on the weekends, Singaporean nighttime transport services are somewhat limited when compared to other world cities. This is slightly baffling when you take the excellent rest of the public transportation system into account. Still, they offer an alternative to taking a cab, and you might be welcoming this fact when partying on the weekends. Unfortunately, there is no night service on weekdays.

Light Rail Transit

As a supplement to both the bus and MRT networks, the LRT (Light Rail Transit) was introduced in 1999. The system services three residential areas (Punggol, Sengkang, and Bukit Panjang) with links to MRT stations in the vicinity, namely Punggol, Sengkang, and Choa Chu Kang stations. The LRT system’s times of operation are scheduled so as to provide connections to both the first and last MRT trains that run through the respective stations.

As with the MRT network, there are plans to expand and amend the system: Bukit Panjang is to become the terminal station on the north end of the Downtown Line. Moreover, the Punggol LRT line will see the opening of its west loop, which does already exist, but is currently not serviced due to the lack of housing developments in the vicinity.

 Continue to the next page of this article to find more about transportation fares, tickets, and passes.

Updated on: September 22, 2016
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