Singapore has one of the most efficient, user friendly public transport systems in the world and certainly the safest and most punctual in Southeast Asia.
Public buses can get you to every corner of the island with the minimum of fuss and go to places where the MRT metro system doesn’t reach. Services are very frequent in the city centre and run all day until around midnight.
SBS transit is the authority which runs Singapore’s local bus routes and there is a variety of vehicles from 20-seat, single deck coaches, double-deckers and modern twin-carriage ‘bendy buses’. Fares are very cheap, starting at under SGD$1 for short journeys; even cheaper if using the EZ-Link prepay card, which can be used on all buses and MRT metro trains.
Fares for buses with air conditioning are slightly more expensive. For full details of all routes and fares contact the Transitlink Hotline (Transit Link Pte Ltd., 9 Maxwell Road #03-02, Annexe A MND Complex, tel: +65 6236 6666, fax: +65 6222 0220, hotline: 1800 224 5663.
The MRT metro system is a quicker and often more convenient option for getting around, especially during the busy rush hour, although buses are definitely the best bet if you want to explore a little farther afield such as the Singapore Zoo or Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Virtually all MRT stations have interchanges with major bus routes so it is easy to use a combination of bus and metro to get around.
Bus travel to Malaysia from Singapore
Buses are the preferred choice of travel for short international journeys across the causeway into Malaysia. Despite a plethora of low cost flights between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, bus travel is still cheaper and also faster than taking the train. There are literally hundreds of buses each day and night plying this route. An international journey it may be, but it is used by thousands of commuters daily. Many Malaysians and a growing number of expats choose to live in much cheaper Johor Bahru and travel across to Singapore for work each day.
Travellers have two distinct options available for bus connections to Malaysia from Singapore. You can make the short hop over the Malay border into the town of Johor Bahru or take one of the long distance buses which connect most Malaysian towns and cities and even travel as far as Bangkok in Thailand. ‘Local’ buses which ply back and forth across the causeway run from early morning until around midnight every day. There are two main bus companies which are SBS Transit and the Malaysian operated Causeway Link.
Crossing the border via Singapore bus
Immigration checks take place at both ends of the causeway and are pretty straightforward. Expect it to take around 45 minutes to an hour in total. All passengers must exit the bus with all belongings at the Singaporean and Malaysian ends and when formalities are completed, board the next available service. Rush hour can get very congested here and is best avoided where possible.
The same immigration formalities take place for passengers on long distance buses from Singapore. There are numerous private bus operators in the city with day and overnight departures from many different locations. A high proportion of these operators are based in the Golden Mile Complex on Beach Road and you can simply inquire at each and compare prices and timetables. This is also the main departure point for through services to Thailand.
Recommended Singapore bus companies
There is everything from no frills seating to executive coaches featuring personal TVs, massages and WiFi connections. Transtar (Open: 09:00-10:00 (daily): 13:00-22:00 (public holidays); Golden Mile Complex, 5001 Beach Road, tel: +65 6299 9009, fax: +65 6296 1011; email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.transtar.com.sg) has the most luxurious services with complimentary meals and on demand videos. There are eight services a day to Kuala Lumpur from early morning until 23:00, costing SGD$58 for first class, SGD$63 for a sleeper-equipped Solitaire. Journey time is approximately five hours.
A cheaper option is with Transnational (Lavender Street Station, tel: +65 6294 7034, website: www.transnasional.com.my) who have daily economy departures until 22:00 for SGD$32/$14. Direct services are also available to places like Melaka, Penang, the Genting Highlands and Hatyai in Thailand.
It is advisable to book these services in advance as they can get fully booked quickly, especially during the weekends. Booking a bus ticket from Singapore is significantly more expensive than if taking an equivalent journey starting in Malaysia. Despite this, fares are generally excellent value overall and the punctuality and safety record is good.