Getting around the “Little Red Dot”
Despite being a small country on a small island, Singapore is one of the most prosperous countries in the world, and according to recent statistics, the most expensive.
One of the biggest single items in your budget, after accommodation, will be transportation.
Here’s our review of your mobility options:
Despite building projects that reclaim land around Singapore, the island will not expand enough to cope with a growing population wishing to own cars. In an attempt to limit the number of cars on the road, the Government implements a number of pricey initiatives including the Certificate of Entitlement (COE), Vehicle Quota System (VQS), road taxes and Electronic Road Pricing (ERP, or tolls). All vehicles have to be registerted with the Land Transport Aurthority (LTA) as well. Each month car owners bid for a limited number of COEs, which last for ten years from the vehicle’s date of registration. You will rarely see a car older than ten years old on the road.
The ERP system is designed as a pay as you go system. Each car has is fitted with an electronic card holder. You buy a cash card from a petrol station. The fee is automatically deducted every time you pass under an ERP gantry or enter a carpark. Just remember to keep it topped up to avoid a fine.
Owning a car can be stressful. The roads are busy and when you get to your destination it’s often very difficult to park. Many people use the public transport system, which is efficient and cheap. The MRT (Mass Rail Transport system) is being expanded to cover a greater area of the island. To use the MRT you will need to buy a rechargeable card (EZ-Link).
Buses are frequent and easy to use, especially if you have a mobile app to help you get from A to B. Try How2Go or Gothere.sg. The Public Transport Council has a list of useful apps. If you want to know where the buses go and which routes they take, this is a useful website.
Top tip: Except that public transport is not as quick as your own vehicle especially if it’s raining or rush hour. Download a range of podcasts on your phone or make the most of the time to catch up on your reading – you can’t do that while you’re driving!
Taking a taxi is a great way to avoid the heat and to get your shopping home from the supermarket. The journey fare is based on a meter reading, but there are different pricing bands at different times of the day.
Be warned: if it’s raining you may have to change your plans. It’s extremely difficult to find a taxi. It’s also nearly impossible to get around during a shift change, which inexplicably occurs during rush hour.
Initially, booking a taxi can appear complicated. There are several taxi companies working under the same phone number. You can also book by text, or mobile phone app but you will need your pick-up point postcode. There is a small charge for booking a taxi. You are only able to book up to 24 hours in advance. Here’s a list of taxi operators.
To find out more about public transport or buying a car visit the Land Transport Authority website.
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