Singapore Ez-link Card Stickers

My wife and I were looking through some of our old photos together and we happened to see these:

Singapore ez-link card with a Papa Smurf sticker on it.

Singapore ez-link card with a Papa Smurf sticker on it.

Singapore ez-link card with a Garfield sticker on it.

Singapore ez-link card with a Garfield sticker on it.

They’re not just cards with pictures.  I know in the US you can get something like that as a sort of collectible, but these are actually stickers on top of ez-link cards from Singapore.  You see, in Singapore, they use a transit card that’s like a contactless debit card.  You just tap it against a reader and enter the train station or bus.  You don’t even have to take it out of your wallet or purse if you don’t want to, and, because there’s no strip to worry about and they’re not disposable, you can decorate them.  They’re simple and usually don’t expire, as far as I remember.  We wound up turning these in for new ones, when they upgraded their system so that ez-link cards could be used to pay tolls on toll roads in cars as well.  In fact, that might have been when we took these photos, just so we could remember our stickers.

I miss these things, and how much easier they were to use than the MetroCards we get in New York City.  MetroCards seem like a waste to me, because you get one, use it for a while and then it has to be thrown away.  Wouldn’t it be better to just use the same card until you wear it out?  It would definitely be more cost effective.  Of course, switching to a card like this would create a loss of work for whoever makes the current MetroCards.  That’s probably the reason they won’t upgrade.  I understand that it’s important for people to have jobs, but I just get tired of seeing it used as an excuse to halt progress, especially when the upgrade could make life easier and is better for the environment at the same time.

Getting Around In Singapore (Transportation)

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: