GETTING AROUND IN SINGAPORE
Traffic jams are sometimes a problem in Singapore but not nearly to the degree as Bangkok and many other cities. The government goes out of its way to keep cars off the street by making owning a car very expensive. There are still some old-style trishshaws around.
Singapore is not as confusing as other Asian cities. The streets are well marked. Taxi drivers respond to both landmarks and street addresses. In any case, before setting out anywhere it is a good idea to have detailed directions and a good map. Many stores and restaurants can be located easily on Google maps. Most taxi drivers and ordinary people speak English, so if you get lost you can easily ask someone for directions.
Always give yourself plenty of time to get somewhere. Traffic and other factors often result in delays. People should avoid taking to the roads during rush hour between 7:30am and 9:30am and 5:00pm to 7:00pm when they can be very crowded. If you get stuck on a rush hour train try to position yourself near, but not to close, to the door so you can get out when you reach your stop.
Public Transportation in Singapore
Public transportation and taxis are abundant, inexpensive, and reliable. Bus stops and trains have panels indicating all routes and stops. Because of the government’s significant emphasis on promoting public transportation, Singapore offers a wide variety of publicly accessible forms of transit (e.g. bus, rail, taxi, and increasingly, ride-share services). At least half of Singapore’s population uses public transportation, with approximately 5.4 million trips made each day.
Singapore arguably has one of the world’s most clean and efficient mass transportation system that includes commuter trains and buses. The main subway-metro system — the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) — is excellent; taxis are convenient and relatively cheap. The bus systems are good but the routes are difficult to sort for first time users.
According to ASIRT: “1) Public transportation safety generally is excellent. 2) Singapore has a well-developed system of local services. 3) An ultra-modern mass rapid transit system (MRT) is quick, comfortable, and easy to use. It is the quickest way to get around. 4) The two types of buses are the Singapore Bus Service and the Trans-Island Bus Service. 5)The bus systems are efficient and inexpensive. 6) A flat rate fare is charged. 7) During peak hours, shuttle and mini-bus services operate. 8) Bus companies must adhere to strict government regulations and standards. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT): PDF, 2007]
Singapore's public transportation system includes Light Rail Transit (LRT), Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), and buses. The MRT network encompasses about 200 kilometers (126 miles) of track, with nine lines and 122 stations in operation. SMRT Trains (SMRT Corporation) operate the North-South Line, East-West Line, and Circle Line, while SBS Transit runs the North-East Line and Downtown Line. Although buses still enjoy an average daily ridership exceeding twice the number carried on both the MRT and LRT systems, the Land Transport Authority plans to expand the rail system such that buses will play only a feeder role to an extensive rail network.
Taxis in Singapore
Taxis provide good service in Singapore. There are over 26,000 of them; they are all metered, air-conditioned, tightly regulated and are outfit with special devices that make a noise whenever the driver exceeds the speed limit. The first kilometer costs S$3.00 to S$3.40. Afterwards the fare is S$0.55 a kilometer. The price goes up 50 percent at night, from 12:00midnight to 6:00am. There may be an additional charge for luggage.
Taxis can not be hailed from the streets during business hours. They have to be caught at taxi stands, which are located near major hotels, shopping centers and major roads. After 5:00pm taxis can be hailed from the streets. They can also be paged at hotels (there is often a charge for this).
Most drivers speak English. Even so, it doesn't hurt to have a map and an address for your destination and a nearby landmark near where you are going. Tipping taxis drivers is not a custom in Singapore. Drivers who wave they hand back and forth are indicating that they are off duty and not picking up passengers. Shift changes usually take place around 4:00pm.
All taxis are metered. Fares must be charged according to the taximeter, plus applicable surcharges. Receipt must be issued upon request. Taxis can be dispatched in seconds via satellite by cell phones. Screens mounted on the driver consoles show the taxis where to go. Many taxis also have wireless service and computers in that passengers can use the Internet while riding around. Limousine taxi service charges a flat rate, and can only be hired from an authorised limousine counter or through call-booking.
Taxis are clearly the most convenient way to get around except when the traffic is bad. You should be able to hail a cab without any problems in most parts of Singapore. You may want to remember though, that vehicles are not allowed to wait or even stop at parts of the roads with painted double yellow or jagged lines. It is always best to get a cab from one of the numerous taxi stands in Singapore – hotels and shopping centre taxi stands are a sure bet. If you’re travelling in a group or carrying a load of shopping or luggage, you may want to book a taxi to your designated location. [Source: yoursingapore.com, Singapore Tourism Board]
According to ASIRT: “Taxi companies must adhere to strict government regulations and standards.Taxis tend to be older vehicles. Fares are inexpensive, but the ride may not be very comfortable. Taxi drivers change shifts from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Hailing a cab during this time may be ineffective, as drivers are unlikely to stop. Taxis add a surcharge if destination is within the CBD when restrictions are in effect. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT): PDF, 2007]
Taxi Fees, Surcharges and Phone Numbers in Singapore
Here are the hotlines for various taxi services in Singapore, which will come in handy if you end up in a more obscure part of the island where the traffic is sparse, or if you are unable to find a taxi during peak hours or any other reason. If you’re coming from an entertainment or dining venue, most concierge services will also be happy to call a taxi for you. The city’s major cab companies are:
Comfort Transportation Pte Ltd / CityCab Pte Ltd: (65) 6552 1111
Premier Taxis Pte Ltd: (65) 6476 8880
Maxi Cab: (65) 6535 3534
SMRT Taxis: (65) 6555 8888
Advance Booking: Phone Numbers
Dial-A-Cab: +65 6342 5222
Comfort Taxi: +65 6552 1111
Comfort Premier Cabs: +65 6552 2828
SMRT Taxis: +65 6555 8888
Smart Cab: +65 6485 7777
TransCab: +65 6555 3333
Premier Taxis: +65 6363 6888
Prime Taxi: +65 6778 0808
Yellow-Top Taxi: +65 6293 5545
Basic fare,: Normal, Limousine, Chrysler
Flag-Down (inclusive of 1st km or less): $3.00-$3.40, $3.90, $5.00
Every 400m thereafter or less up to 10km: $0.22, $0.22, $0.33
Every 350 metres thereafter or less after 10 km: $0.22, $0.22, $0.33
Every 45 secs of waiting or less: $0.22, $0.22, $0.33
Additional passenger fee (SilverLux MPV, Space MPV and London Cab only)
Applicable for more than 4 adult passengers or its equivalent: $2.00 per passenger
Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) charges: All ERP charges incurred during trip and for Fuji Xerox Tower drop-off.
Midnight surcharge: Midnight to 5.59am: 50% of metered fareApplicable at the time of boarding.
Peak hour surcharge: Mon – Fri: 6.00am to 9.30am: 25% of metered fare; Mon – Sun & Public Holidays: 6.00pm to midnight: 25% of metered fareApplicable at the time of boarding.
City area surcharge: Mon – Sun & Public Holidays: 5.00pm to midnight: $3.00. Applicable for all trips starting from city area and is payable on top of the Peak Hour Surcharge. Applicable for all trips starting from Marina Bay Sands taxi stands.
Changi Airport & Changi Air Freight Centre: Fri – Sun: 5.00pm to midnight; At all other times: $5.00, $3.00
Seletar Airport: $3.00
Marina Bay Sands: Sun & Public Holidays: 6.00am to 4.59pm: $3.00
Resorts World Sentosa: $3.00
Singapore Expo Centre: $2.00
Booking fees: Normal: Limousine: Chrysler
Mon – Fri: 6.00am to 9:30am: $3.30: $10.00: $10.00
Mon – Sun & Public Holidays: 6.00pm to midnight: $3.30: $10.00: $10.00
All other times (including Sat, Sun & Public Holidays): $2.30: $10.00: $10.00
Advanced Bookings: (at least half an hour in advance): $8.00: $18.00: $20.00
Buses in Singapore
Buses are plentiful and run between 5:30am and midnight. Singapore has a very good bus system, which is not all that difficult to sort out. The bus numbers and destinations are marked on the front, side and back of the bus. Passengers often have to stand. Seats are usually deferred to people over 60 and women with babies. Bus route maps can be purchased at most hotels, bookstores or tourism offices. Because other means of transport are so cheap you're probably better off taking a taxi or the subway. If you take the bus, use it during off peak hours.
The two types of buses are the Singapore Bus Service and the Trans-Island Bus Service. The bus systems are efficient and inexpensive. A flat rate fare is charged. During peak hours, shuttle and mini-bus services operate.Bus companies must adhere to strict government regulations and standards. Transit Link (www.transitlink.com.sg/) tells you what bus to take to your desired location. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT): PDF, 2007]
Covering 75 percent of the scheduled bus market share in Singapore with 250 bus services and a fleet of close to 3,000 buses, SBS Transit is Singapore’s major bus service operator. Operating convenient bus services all around Singapore, SBS Transit services also ply destinations that are less accessible. Most of their buses are equipped with air-conditioning and provides trunk, feeder, Express, Townlink and Premium services.
Besides being Singapore’s mass-rapid transit operator, SMRT also runs bus services primarily in northern parts of Singapore. It shares a duopoly with SBS Transit as part of Singapore’s transport system. Its fleet of almost 1,000 buses serves 98 routes and like SBS Transit, it operates feeder, express and premium services. Whether you travel with SBS Transit or SMRT, you can either use cash or purchase an ez-link card from any Transitlink Ticket Office in Singapore with a minimum stored value of S$10 and you can be on your way.
SMRT also operates the popular NightRider service, which is a safe and affordable alternative transport option for commuters who spend weekends partying till late. The seven late night routes operate from the city to different housing estates of Singapore between 11:30 pm to 4 am. Bus services called the Nite Owl operate on Fridays, Saturdays and the eve of Public Holidays. Fares are S$4.00 for both ez-link and cash payments. If you are travelling within the city area, you only need to pay S$1.50.
Plus, if you have access to iris (Intelligent Route Information System) NextBus service, it’s highly unlikely to lose your way around Singapore. Offering bus arrival time estimation on a real time basis, the iris Journey Planner provides travel solutions by bus based on the cheapest fare, shortest walking distance or shortest travelling time. You can find both of these services at www.sbstransit.com.sg, and via GPRS and SMS on mobile devices.
Subways and Light Rail
Singapore's public transportation system includes Light Rail Transit (LRT), Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), and buses. The MRT network encompasses 200 kilometers (126 miles) of track, with nine lines and 122 stations in operation. SMRT Trains (SMRT Corporation) operate the North-South Line, East-West Line, and Circle Line, while SBS Transit runs the North-East Line and Downtown Line. Although buses still enjoy an average daily ridership exceeding twice the number carried on both the MRT and LRT systems, the Land Transport Authority plans to expand the rail system such that buses will play only a feeder role to an extensive rail network.
Besides being Singapore’s mass-rapid transit operator, SMRT also runs bus services primarily in northern parts of Singapore. It shares a duopoly with SBS Transit as part of Singapore’s transport system. Its fleet of almost 1,000 buses serves 98 routes and like SBS Transit, it operates feeder, express and premium services.
SMRT has taken various steps to ensure accessibility for wheelchair users, families with children in strollers, the visually impaired and those travelling with luggage or large packages, ensuring that all your needs are well taken care of when you ride with SMRT.
Subways and Light Rail Tickets and Passes
SMRT provides a host of ticketing schemes based on stored value smartcards to suit your needs – from standard one-time travel tickets to tourist concession passes. Stored value cards, locally known as ez-link cards, can be purchased from the TransitLink Ticket Office located at selected SMRT stations, and standard value tickets may be purchased from General Ticketing Machines (GTMs) located at all SMRT stations.
You may top up your ez-link cards at any Transitlink Ticket Office or GTM using cash or NETS. The minimum top-up value is S$10 while the maximum stored value allowed on your card is S$100. You may also choose to buy a Standard Ticket that can be used up to six times within 30 days from the date of purchase. A S$0.10 deposit is required and will be automatically refunded through an off-set against your third trip.
Whether you travel with SBS Transit or SMRT, you can either use cash or purchase an ez-link card from any Transitlink Ticket Office in Singapore with a minimum stored value of S$10 and you can be on your way.
MRT (Mass Rapid Transit)
Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is Singapore's underground subway system. Opened in 1987, it is a very clean and efficient system as you might expect and operates between 6:00am and 12:00 midnight, with trains running at intervals of eight minutes. No eating or drinking is allowed on the subway cars. Many of Singapore popular tourist destinations are accessible by the MRT. Fares are set according to distance. Passengers can use the Transit Link Farecard described above or single ride tickets that can be purchases from user-friendly machines.
In the early 2000s, the MRT unveiled the first fully-automated driverless metro system. The trains that run on the 20-kilometer-long, 16-station North East MRT have no drivers. Instead they rely on a computer system that controls everything from the power and signally systems to when to open and close the doors. Closed circuit television and communication system on the trains allows passengers to communicate with the train staff. The North East MRT line connects Chinatown, Little India and the Harbor to the existing subway system.
The MRT system is probably the fastest way to get around Singapore besides taxis. Besides being one of the cleanest transport systems in the world, the MRT provides scenic views of our heartland and city areas, with great access to almost every part of Singapore. You can download the train route map from www.smrt.com.sg and use it to navigate your way around our island. [Source: yoursingapore.com, Singapore Tourism Board]
MRT Lines and Stations
The Singapore MRT system consists of 9 lines and 122 stations. 1) North South Line: Jurong East - Bukit Batok - Bukit Gombak - Choa Chu Kang - Yew Tee - Kranji - Marsiling - Woodlands - Admiralty - Sembawang - Yishun - Khatib - Yio Chu Kang - Ang Mo Kio - Bishan - Braddell - Toa Payoh - Novena - Newton - Orchard - Somerset - Dhoby Ghaut - City Hall - Raffles Place - Marina Bay
2) East West Line: Pasir Ris - Tampines - Simei - Tanah Merah - Bedok - Kembangan - Eunos - Paya Lebar - Aljunied - Kallang - Lavender - Bugis - City Hall - Raffles Place - Tanjong Pagar - Outram Park - Tiong Bahru - Redhill - Queenstown - Commonwealth - Buona Vista - Dover - Clementi - Jurong East - Chinese Garden - Lakeside - Boon Lay - Pioneer - Joo Koon
3) East West Line Changi Airport Extension: Tanah Merah - Expo - Changi Airport 4) North East Line: HarbourFront - Outram Park - Chinatown - Clarke Quay - Dhoby Ghaut - Little India - Farrer Park - Boon Keng - Potong Pasir - Woodleigh - Serangoon - Kovan - Hougang - Buangkok - Sengkang - Punggol
5) Circle Line: Marina Bay - Bayfront - Dhoby Ghaut - Bras Basah - Esplanade - Promenade - Nicoll Highway - Stadium - Mountbatten - Dakota - Paya Lebar - MacPherson - Tai Seng - Bartley - Serangoon - Lorong Chuan - Bishan - Marymount - Caldecott - Botanic Gardens - Farrer Road - Holland Village - Buona Vista - one-north - Kent Ridge - Haw Par Villa - Pasir Panjang - Labrador Park - Telok Blangah - HarbourFront
6) Bukit Panjang LRT Line: Choa Chu Kang - South View - Keat Hong - Teck Whye - Phoenix - Bukit Panjang - Senja - Jelapang - Segar - Fajar - Bangkit - Pending - Petir - Bukit Panjang - Phoenix - Teck Whye - Keat Hong - South View - Choa Chu Kang
7) Sengkang LRT Line (East): Sengkang - Compassvale - Rumbia - Bakau - Kangkar - Ranggung - Sengkang 8) Sengkang LRT Line (West): Sengkang - Renjong - Tongkang - Layar - Fernvale - Thanggam - Farmway - Cheng Lim - Sengkang 9) Punggol LRT Line: Punggol - Damai - Oasis - Kadaloor - Riviera - Coral Edge - Meridian - Cove - Punggol
Train Fares & Travel Cards
All train and bus journeys can be paid for using cash, contactless stored value cards as well as Mastercard® or Visa contactless credit and debit cards. Whether by bus or train, the distance fare scheme means you pay for the distance you travel in a single journey, no more, no less.
Travel Cards: Comes in various modes, the two most common being EZ-Link and Nets FlashPay. You can buy this from any Ticket Office or Passenger Service Centre, and top-up via: General Ticketing Machines; Add Value Machines; TransitLink Ticket Office; AXS Stations; DBS/POSB/OCBC Automatic Teller Machines; 7-Eleven stores; SingPost outlets.
Discounts on Travel Fare: Adults, Children, Students, Senior Citizens, National Servicemen, Persons with Disabilities and Workfare Income Supplement recipients can use their respective concession cards to enjoy fare discounts.
Simplygo with Mastercard and Visa: Commuters can now pay for their bus and train fares with Mastercard or Visa contactless credit and debit cards. There will be no need for upfront top-ups and your train and bus fares will be consolidated, processed and charged to your credit / debit card bill. Commuters who use SimplyGo with contactless bank cards issued locally will be charged the same fares as those who currently use contactless stored value cards (i.e. EZ-Link and NETS FlashPay cards). An admin fee will be payable for commuters who use foreign contactless bank cards.
For Mastercard contactless bank cards, fare charges will be accumulated for up to 5 days or after a total of $15 is spent on transit fares, whichever is earlier. For Visa contactless bank cards, fare charges will be accumulated daily. To view the details of your trips and fare charges, you need to register an account with TransitLink SimplyGo. Charges for public transport rides will be reflected in the commuters’ credit or debit card bills similar to retail transactions. Please take out the card you intend to use so that you present only one contactless card (e.g. Mastercard, Visa, EZ-Link and NETS Flashpay) when using the transit system. You may encounter card clash or duplicate charges when you tap with your wallet containing multiple cards. Please visit simplygo.com.sg for more information.
Standard Ticket: Can only be used on MRT and LRT rides for both single and return trips. It can be used up to six times within 30 days from the date of purchase. The purchase price includes a deposit of 10 cents and this is automatically refunded on the travel fare of the third trip. A user also enjoys a 10-cent discount on the sixth trip.
Tap Card: It is good practice to take out your travel card to tap when commuting. This will ensure quicker entry/exit at MRT station and on board buses. The reason is to prevent ‘card clash’— multiple cards detected at MRT fare gates and card readers on buses. As a result, the fare gates and card readers cannot discern which card you would like to use for your commute. This happens when you place a few travel cards together in the same wallet (e.g. ez-link, NETS FlashPay, EMV-chipped credit/debit cards etc.).
Some scenarios where a card clash may occur: Scenario 1: Two or more travel cards (ez-link, NETS FlashPay etc.) are placed together in the same wallet and tapped on the MRT fare gate/card reader on buses. Scenario 2: More than 1 EMV-chipped contactless credit/debit card are housed in the same wallet and tapped on the MRT fare gate/card reader on buses. Scenario 3: Multiple Cards (EMV-chipped credit/ debit card, ez-link, NETS FlashPay etc.) are housed in the same wallet and tapped on the MRT fare gate/card reader on buses.
MRT and Bus Passes
The Singapore Tourist Pass is a special ez-link card that offers tourist unlimited travel on Singapore’s basic bus services, MRT and LRT trains for the duration that it is valid. You can now take in the sights and sounds of Singapore in the comfort of the island’s extensive train system and public bus network. At wallet-friendly prices, you do not have to worry about having insufficient funds for your transport needs with the Singapore Tourist Pass. All you have to do is to purchase the Singapore Tourist Pass, choose the number of day passes you require, use for your unlimited rides on buses and trains, and refund the card before you leave Singapore!
Singapore Tourist Pass: 1-Day Pass: $20, 2-Day Pass: $26, 3-Day Pass: $30 Inclusive of $10 Refundable Rental Deposit. A 1-day coverage of the STP begins from your 1st usage till 11:59pm of the day. Usage of 2-day or 3-day card must be on consecutive days. Unlimited travel is only applicable for public bus and train services. The pass excludes rides on premium services such as Sentosa Express, RWS8, Fast Forward, Night Rider and Nite Owl buses. Prices apply to adult and child above 0.9m in height.
SG Tourist Pass: 3-Day Pass: $25, No Rental Deposit Required. A special ez-link card that offers tourists unlimited travel on Singapore’s basic bus services, MRT and LRT trains for 3 days duration. Usage of the 3-day pass must be on consecutive days. Unlimited travel is only applicable for public bus and train services. The pass excludes rides on premium services such as Sentosa Express, RWS8, Fast Forward, Night Rider and Nite Owl buses. Prices apply to adult and child above 0.9m in height.
Roads and Traffic in Singapore
Singapore has about 3000 kilometers of good quality roads. Roads are generally paved and in good condition. They include well-illuminated thoroughfares with English-language signs and four- to six-lane expressways that span the country. Although traffic can be a bit more hectic than what is common in the U.S. (with drivers seemingly occupying two lanes at once and motorcycles darting from lane to lane between cars), serious traffic accidents are relatively uncommon. Drivers should remain vigilant and cautious, as police regularly enforce speeding violations via speed cameras. Drivers should recognize the difficulty posed by frequent, sometimes heavy downpours that can release several inches of water onto the road in minutes.
Singapore has a highly developed and well-maintained road and highway network. Motorists should be particularly aware of motorcyclists, who often ignore lane markings. Lanes are frequently closed without warning due to construction throughout the city. Closed circuit cameras monitor all major roads. As with all laws in Singapore, those involving traffic rules, vehicle registration, and liability in case of accident are strictly enforced, and failure to follow them may result in criminal penalties.
According to ASIRT: “1) The road network is being expanded and improved continually. 2) Road signs can be confusing, as they frequently are abbreviated. 3) Bus lanes are marked by broken yellow lines. Do not drive in a bus lane during the hours of 7:30-9:30 am or 4:30-7:00 pm Monday through Friday or from 7:30- 9:30 am and 11:30-2:00 pm on Saturday. 4) Be alert for potholes, especially at night. 5) In “non-New Towns,” section addresses are difficult to find. In the New Towns, addresses include the neighborhood and block number, making them easier to find. 6) Road tolls are charged on Singapore expressways during rush hour.
The eight expressways are a) Pan Island Expressway (PIE), b) Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE), c) East Coast Parkway (ECP), d) Central Expressway (CTE), e) Tampines Expressway (TPE), f) Seletar Expressway (SLE), g) Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) and h) Kranji Expressway (KJE). Singapore is connected to Malaysia by two causeways. 5) The "E3” (also known as the Second Link or Linkedua) is a dual 3-lane expressway that connects Tanjong Kupang in Johor to Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim at Tuas in Singapore. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT): PDF, 2007]
Motorists generally yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Several injuries and fatalities have occurred due to jaywalking at bus stations. As a result, the fine for the first offense is very high and may include a jail sentence. Highways frequently are well lit at night. Of all road crashes, 31 percent occur at night. No pronounced rainy or dry seasons exist. There is a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms occurring each day (up to 67 percent in April). These storms may arise suddenly and greatly reduce visibility.
Driving in Singapore
Driving in Singapore is on the left side of the road (different from U.S, the same as Britain), the road signs are in English, and distances and speeds are measured in kilometers. The driving laws in Singapore are more or less the same as those in the U.S., and Singaporeans are generally very good drivers. Even so drive defensively. There is a seatbelt law which you are expected to follow.
Driving is not recommended however. Public transportation and taxis are abundant, inexpensive, and reliable. Visitors should consider using this form of transportation. Parking is expensive at hotels and restaurants. On-street parking is allowed by pre- purchased ticket only. Driving is restricted in the business area on workdays. Travel restrictions are in effect in the Central Business District (CBD) during the day; all vehicles entering the CBD must pay a road toll and display an access badge. These travel restrictions are strictly enforced.
Gasoline is more expensive than in the U.S. Gas stations and mechanics are fairly plentiful. Auto repairs generally cost about the same as in the U.S. Even so, make sure your car has a spare tire, jack, spare battery water, an extra fan belt and an emergency triangle. Small cars are easier to maneuver in Singapore's traffic and on Malaysia's narrow roads. European and Japanese models are available. U.S. made cars are practically nonexistent in Singapore.
According to ASIRT: “1) Driving in Singapore is similar to driving in a large US city during rush hour. 2) Drivers tend to run red lights, tailgate, weave in and out of traffic, ignore lane markings, and pass irresponsibly in traffic backups. 3) Motorcyclists often ignore lane markings. 4) Speeding is one of the chief factors involved in fatal road crashes. 5) The use of speed limiters on trucks and other heavy vehicles is successfully reducing speeding. 6) Illegal parking is increasing. Parking violations can contribute to congestion and may be factors in some road crashes. 7) If a car breaks down along the road, drivers sometimes put a tree branch on the road or dump a pail of dirt behind their car as a warning to other motorists. 8) Motorcyclists and their passengers account for almost 50 percent of road crash fatalities. 9) Taxis and buses frequently are involved in road crashes. 10) Heavy trucks make up 4.46 percent of all vehicles but contribute to 13.8 percent of fatal road crashes.” In Singapore, there are 20.2 road fatalities per 100,000 vehicles in 2013, compared to 5.7 fatalities in Japan and 13.2 in the US. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT): PDF, 2007]
Driver's License, Insurance and Roadside Assistance :
Singapore law allows for foreigners to drive for up to 12 months with an International Driving Permit (IDP) After that, the foreigner would have to convert the license to a Singapore driving license. A drivers license from the United States may be acceptable in Singapore but don’t push your luck. You can drive in Singapore using a UK driving licence or a European Union (EU) driving permit for up to one year. In the U.S., an IDP can obtained through AAA (American Automobile Association) at AAA office or online ( aaa.com/vacation/idp ) for US$20 and two passport size photographs. IDPs are a legal identification document that translates driving license information into 11 languages, including English, and intended to be used as a supplement to a valid driving license. . Technically, the IDP is so that your license can be read and identified by the Traffic Police, in the event you are checked. Your US driving license is already in English, so technically you would be fine without it, but just get it for peace of mind to be fully within the letter of the law. You don’t want to have a traffic accident and have issues with your driver’s license. A Singapore driver's license may be obtained in Singapore on presentation of a valid license and a passport.
Foreign motorists arriving in Singapore in their own vehicle generally must also have a vehicle registration document and green card or insurance certificate showing that the car has accident liability coverage. Third party liability insurance is mandatory. Vehicle liability insurance is required by law in Singapore. Motorists from abroad must either present the green international insurance card or take out temporary liability insurance at the point of entry into the country. Insurance coverage available at the point of entry can be purchased for 15 days or one month. Should the insurance coverage expire, you may apply for an extension at automobile club offices located throughout the country.
The Automobile Association (AA) of Singapore provides roadside assistance, and the Land Transport Authority has rescue vehicles on the road at all hours. In addition, about 800 closed circuit cameras monitor all major roads and there are “SOS” phones every 2 kilometers.. Roadside assistance is excellent. Help can be reached using a 24-hour hotline (Tel: 6748-9911). The fee to register with AAS is $87 but may be waived if you already an AA member in home country. Emergency numbers are police 999, non-emergencies 65-235-9111, ambulance and fire 995, and bon- emergency ambulance service 777 0000.
Driving Rules in Singapore
Laws involving traffic rules, vehicle registration, and liability in case of accident are strictly enforced and violations may result in criminal penalties. If you are involved in an accident, you should remain at the scene until the police have arrived. Driving under the influence of alcohol carries serious penalties and can include a fine or imprisonment. The traffic police regularly carry out breath tests. The legal blood alcohol level is 0.8 mg/ml.
Speed Limit: 80 km/h (50 mph) on expressways and 50 km/h (31 mph) in cities and towns. Expressways where the speed limit has been increased from 80 to 90 km/h include the Tampines and SLE, some sections of the BKE, CTE, ARE and PanIsland Expressways, and the ECP and KJE. Laser speed cameras are used on expressways and in urban areas.
Vehicle registration laws, seat belt laws, and other driving regulations are strictly enforced. According to ASIRT:“1) The minimum age for driving is 17 years. 2) Seat belts and child seats are required. Children younger than 8 years are required to use a safety seat and seat belt when riding in the front seat. 3) Headlights must be turned on from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am. 4) Traffic lights: A flashing amber light means the light is out of order. Yield to traffic on the right; proceed withcaution. A flashing green arrow means the light is about to change. Do not proceed if you have not crossed the “stop line.” 5) The use of a cell phone while driving is illegal. 6) Stopping on the shoulder or the entrance to an expressway is illegal. 7) Making a left turn on red after stopping is legal. 8) A single, yellow zigzag line at the side of road means that vehicles can stop to pick up or drop off passengers but may not park. A double, yellow zigzag line means no stopping or parking. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT): PDF, 2007]
Rental Cars and Hiring a Driver in Singapore
Rental Cars are available but are not recommended because the mass transportation system is so good and there aren't many places to go unless you want to venture to Malaysia. Driving in traffic in Singapore though is less problematic than driving around other Asian cities. Some rental companies operate out of the airport. American car rental company with offices in Singapore include Hertz and Avis. Cars may be rented daily, weekly, or monthly.
According to ASIRT: “An International Driver’s Permit (IDP) and a Singapore driver’s license are required to rent a car. Get the IDP in your home country. For information on a Singapore license, call the Traffic Police Department at 65-221-0000; expect a lot of red tape. Taxes on rental fees are high, which is one of Singapore’s ways to limit traffic congestion. Insurance should include a Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and personal injury policy.
To rent a car you must be at east 20 years old. Some rental companies require you to be 25. Third party liability insurance is mandatory for all vehicles traveling in Singapore. Before you make a reservation check with your auto insurance or credit card company about liability and accident coverage in an overseas rent-a-car. You may already be covered. Also, get a written confirmation from the rental company in the local currency, and inquire about additional costs, such as sales tax, airport surcharges, drop-off fees, mileage and theft insurance. When you return the car get a final bill; it is difficult to dispute charges once back in your home country.
Vehicles with a driver can be hired formally through hotels, tour companies, travel agencies or rent-a-car agencies, or informally with a taxi driver.
Bicycling, Motorcycles and Boats
Motorcyclists and their passengers account for almost 50 percent of road crash fatalities. Rental bikes are available. Cycling on expressways is illegal. Separate cycle lanes on main roads are rare. Drivers are not always courteous to cyclists, especially on main roads.[Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT): PDF, 2007]
Boats are used by locals and tourists to get around in the rivers, lagoons, and islands of Singapore. Tourist generally travel on boat trips sponsored by travel agencies. Forty-five minute river cruises depart from Clarke Quay.
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: Singapore tourism websites, Singapore government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Updated in August 2020