Getting Around In Singapore (Transportation)

Bradley FarlessLife in Singapore2 Comments

One of the first thing a person wants to know when they move somewhere is how they’re going to get around.  Singapore’s got you covered on that one.  It has one of the best public transportation systems I’ve ever seen and there are sidewalks and walking bridges everywhere.  Here are some details:

The Bus:

The most common method of public transportation in Singapore is one we’re all familiar with.  There are two types of buses in Singapore.  There are the regular buses, and then there are double-decker buses like the one the above photo was taken in.  I love those double-decker buses.  When you get a good seat up towards the front of one, every short trip feels like a tour!  You can get a good view of what’s around you while you’re traveling, unless you get on one that has an advertisement covering the front glass.  That’s a bit annoying.  Of course, the view isn’t the only thing that’s great about the buses in Singapore.  They also have piped in television.  The shows that are playing are usually interesting and the audio is pretty clear, unless it’s rush hour and the passengers on the bus are talking.  One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that people on buses (and trains) in Singapore are fairly quiet compared to other places I’ve lived.  In fact, there is often a subdued atmosphere.

The Train:

The train system in Singapore is very efficient.  There are quite a few lines that cover the island.  In fact, there are very few places in Singapore that are outside of walking distance to the nearest MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) station.  Here’s a map:


(Note: The Pioneer and Joo Koon stations on the East West Line are now complete. A portion of the Circle Line in the Serangoon area is also now complete.)

As you can see, the train system is extensive, with more lines being constructed.

The trains themselves are well kept and clean.  There isn’t any piped in TV like on the bus, but it’s usually a short ride.  For example, you could ride the East West Line from one end of the island to the other in about an hour.  One of the interesting things about the trains here is that the wallspace, floorspace, windowspace, and any other space that can be covered by an ad can and often is.  As you can see in the image above, the entire interior of the train was decorated with an advertisement for Baron’s beer.  The outside sported a similar design as well.  At least they did a good job and it’s interesting.

Payment

Before I move on I wanted to mention how you pay for your rides.  On the bus you can either use exact change or a transit card called an EZ-Link card.  It’s a smarter move to go for the card because if you pay cash you have to pay more for the ride. I think it has to do with fees the banks charge to process coin deposits, but that’s just a wild guess.  As for the EZ-Link cards you can buy them at the MRT stations.  when you buy one there is an initial cost that I can’t remember, but it’s minimal and the card comes pre-loaded with (I think) a 10 SGD credit.  After that, you can deposit more money to it through a window teller, or one of the automated machines in the MRT stations.  The EZ-Link card is a smart card.  You don’t even have to take it out of your wallet when you make a payment with it.  As you enter and leave the bus or train station you tap your card on a pad that registers the entry or exit.  The fare is based on the distance you traveled, which is more fair than a flate rate in my opinion.

Other Methods To Get Around:

Though I don’t recommend riding 3 persons to a bicycle, like this lovely bunch above, it is a great way to get around here.  I don’t own a bicycle myself, but I’ve been considering making the investment.  Singapore has a lot of great, wide sidewalks and in some cases dedicated bicycle paths.  Located at most MRT stations there are racks designed for locking bicycles, and even when there isn’t people lock their bicycles to anything they can find.  A cheap bicycle can be bought for around 75 – 100 SGD and at that price you can usually talk a store owner into throwing in a free bell and basket.  From what I’ve seen, helmets aren’t required here, but I think it’s a finable offense if you don’t use your bell to warn pedestrians on the sidewalk that you’re coming.

Last but not least, if you want some fresh air, you could do this:

Beating the Weather in Singapore

Bradley FarlessLife in Singapore4 Comments

If you’re coming to Singapore, bring light clothing! Oh, and pack an umbrella!

Singapore is located in the tropics.  It only takes one step outside of your house at noon to be reminded of that.  Well, sometimes you don’t even have to leave your house to figure it out.  This place is hot all the time, and it’s especially hot during the summer.  The temperatures seem to constantly hover around 32 to 34.  I think I noted on a weather site that the temperature drops to 29 at night here, but that’s only outside.  The buildings are constructed in a way that they hold the heat, so the ambient temperature in your home might stay at 31 to 32 all night even with the windows open.  Complicating matters is the humidity, which averages about 75%.

Also, it rains quite often.  It seems to rain about once a week, if not more.  It’s supposed to be even worse during the rainy season, which is from November to December.  Though, from what I remember from this past year, it’s raining more now than it was then.

Sometimes it rains just a bit.  Sometimes it rains a lot.  What’s good about the rain in Singapore is that it usually rolls in quickly and is gone just as fast.  If it rains, it might rain for 30 minutes and then an hour after it stops the roads will be almost dry again.  There are times when the rain is more prolonged and may be off and on for a day or two, but not as often as the short showers.

I love the rain here for two reasons. First, it cools everything down. In the days leading up to a good storm it usually gets hotter and hotter, sometimes touching on 35. Then the clouds roll in and the rain helps to cool everything off. The second reason is simply personal. I love a good thunderstorm! The overcast days, the gray of the clouds, the rumble of the thunder and the flash of the lightning are calming and thrilling at the same time.