Transport and Driving in Singapore
Thanks to good roads and an integrated transport system, getting around Singapore is generally stress-free. The city-state is pedestrian-friendly, most streets have paved sidewalks, and crossing even the busiest of roads is easy to do via overhead bridges, underpasses and crosswalks.
But walking is not always the most efficient way to get around. For such a small place, things in Singapore aren't that close together and the heat, humidity and surprise rainstorms will also probably play a part in limiting the time residents walk around in Singapore.
The good news is that there are several excellent options for transport in Singapore. Between bus routes and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) lines, commuters can get just about anywhere they need to go, and cabs are abundant and inexpensive.
Public transport in Singapore
Expats who plan on using public transport regularly should consider buying a rechargeable EZ-Link card. These can be bought at most MRT stations and 7-Eleven stores, and can be used on buses and the MRT.
Commuters tap their EZ-Link card when boarding a bus or entering an MRT station, and fares are based on distance.
The mode of transit a commuter chooses is most often related to the services in their area and the amount of time they have to get from Point A to Point B. Buses tend to make frequent stops and often get caught in traffic; the MRT is fast and efficient, but only services particular areas; and while taxis stop less than buses, they're more expensive and are also subject to the perils of congestion.
The MRT in Singapore is clean and air-conditioned. The distance between stops is about two minutes. Peak usage of the MRT is typically during the morning and evening rush hours, with most people heading into or out of the city centre. MRT stations have helpful location maps that expats can use to orientate themselves. Different exits are labelled with the names of significant buildings or landmarks to guide people to their destination.
More than 300 bus services run throughout Singapore, operating from about 5.30am to midnight. These routes tend to go further into the residential areas than the MRT lines, and residents often use them to connect to an MRT station.
Bus stops have helpful signs that display information for all routes servicing that particular stop. Most bus stops are named after the building or landmark they are closest to.
If a commuter doesn't have an EZ-Link card to pay for bus fare, it's possible to pay the driver in cash, but be sure to keep the ticket in case there's an inspection.
Taxis in Singapore
Taxis are a comfortable and convenient way to get around Singapore, and are also a relatively cheap way to travel. Most cabs have a light on their roof, with red indicating the cab is occupied and green meaning it's available.
Head to the closest taxi queue to wait for a cab. These are often located near busy areas, like shopping areas or hawker centres. If there isn't a queue, simply stand along the curb and flag the next available cab down by waving at it. Another way to book a taxi is to call one or book one online. It's a good idea to keep a few cab company numbers and websites on hand.
Cycling in Singapore
Cycling in Singapore is increasing in popularity but there are few bike lanes and not all drivers are considerate.
There are two options for cyclists who would rather avoid the roads: riding on the sidewalk or using the Park Connector Network (PCN). Riding a bike on sidewalks is common, but expats are advised to use a bell to alert pedestrians of their presence.
The PCN is a series of wide walkways for pedestrians and cyclists which link public parks together. These cut behind neighbourhoods, along waterways and sometimes connect with major roads and MRT lines too. PCN routes are scenic and sometimes faster than using roads.
Driving in Singapore
Owning a car in Singapore usually isn't necessary. Public transportation is extensive, efficient and affordable. But some expats do prefer buying or leasing a car or motorcycle, and the freedom associated with them.
Whether leasing or buying, drivers will have to pay for a Certificate of Entitlement (COE), which allows an individual to own a car in Singapore for 10 years. The system was created to try and limit the number of cars on the road, and the price of a COE depends, in part, on the current demand for COEs.
Other costs are involved too. Parking is almost never free, insurance prices are high and road tolls quickly add up. Expats who want to import a car will have to contend with registration fees and customs taxes.