Saturday, August 13, 2011

Singapore MRT

As budget tourist, my first focus in Singapore is to know how to reach different places safely, fast and cheap. Well, the answer is MRT or LRT.

Singapore is a small country and it has limited land. It is only prudent for them to have an efficient mass transport system. Although their bus system is also efficient, I find it confusing from time to time. However, in regards to their train system, again, as long as you can read and have money you won't get lost. So it is always preferable to book your place in Singapore near any train station.

There are two companies operating the whole Singapore MRT/LRT links, namely: SMRT and SBS. I could see taxis and buses with SMRT and SBS logo also.

The MRT system of Singapore is so efficient that in my opinion, a tourist won't need to hire taxi anymore, even going and coming from Changi airport. However, MRT/LRT system stops at around 11:45 pm, so after that time you need to hire taxi.

The trains have some interconnecting stations and biggest of them is Dhoby Ghaut station where 3 trains are connected.

In each station, you will find some general ticketing machines such as this:

If you intend to stay in Singapore for some time, the first and foremost thing you need to do is to purchase an ez link card. The ezlink card is RF type thus you simply need to tap it on any entry & exit counters. You can also use this ezlink card on bus or as payment to any 7/11 convenience shop. Very sophisticated device but I use this only for train and bus.  The ezlink has two types, the adult and child. Of course, the main difference is that there is discount for children. The ezlink card looks like this:

The picture is slightly blur due to camera shake, maybe I need a  bottle of Tiger to minimize it.

It is advisable for any tourist to buy this ez link card upon arrival at Changi airport. You have to pay a non-refundable 5 S$ for the card and an initial 7 S$ load, so that's 12 S$ from your pocket immediately before you start using this card. For topping-up, the ticket machine and the passenger service counter accept 10 S$ as minimum top-up. In case you have some amount left in your card and you are leaving Singapore you may refund that amount from any passenger service counter except the 5 S$ deposit for the ezlink card. Moreover, if you have plan to come back to Singapore within 5 years then it is advisable to keep this card.

A typical passenger service counter inside the MRT station.

However, if you intend to stay in Singapore for one night only then you can purchase a single trip ticket with additional 1 S$ deposit, refundable when you surrender the single-trip ticket to the ticket machine. I don't use this single-trip ticket thus I can't elaborate further. I have use the single trip ticket when I was in Hongkong and Dubai. I don't know if it is the same here in Singapore.

Singapore MRT/LRT is a combination of Subway, overhead and ground level railways. Here are some of the pictures taken in different stations.

Hmmm.. nice looking individuals.

Some stations are having entry/exit directly connected to shopping malls such as ION (Orchard station), City Square Mall (Farrer Park station) and so on..

ION Orchard access to MRT

What is good for all these stations is that even if you are tied on a wheelchair, you can still travel between stations due to availability of ramps and lifts or elevators.

While roaming around Singapore, sometimes I get lost. My golden rule is always to locate the nearest MRT station. If I am far then that is the time I would take a bus or taxi and get-off at the first MRT station then I can go back to my place in no time.

By the way, be aware of this sign inside the train.

Finally, if you plan to spend time inside the station because of some reasons be aware that there is time limit upon entering/tapping any MRT or LRT station. When that time has elapsed, you won't be able to use your ez link card anymore even if you still have some amount stored inside. A message of "card invalid"will appear on the entry/exit counter and red light will blink. If this happens to you, proceed to the passenger service counter and they will reset your ez link card after deducting 2 S$.