Getting around Singapore is easy, thanks to a systematic and integrated land transport master plan that incorporates an efficient rail and bus system, a carefully designed road and traffic structure, and controlled car ownership.
Driving in Singapore
Cars in Singapore are on right-hand drive, driven on the left side of the road. Some of the local traffic rules include the mandatory fastening of seat belts, avoiding the bus lane during certain hours, and using mobile phones while driving only with a hands-free device. Visit the Singapore Police Force website for a complete guide to local traffic regulations and penalties.
In land scarce Singapore, the government imposes measures to curb car ownership and usage. The Land Transport Authority (LTA) administers the Vehicle Quota System to control the number of vehicles on the road and allows only a fixed number of new vehicles via the release of Certificates of Entitlement (COEs) every month.
Buyers of new cars need to bid for a COE, which is valid for 10 years from the date of registration. The LTA One Motoring website provides you with all the important information on vehicle ownership, from bidding for a COE to registering your vehicle and paying road taxes.
Leasing might be an attractive alternative to buying a car, especially if you are in Singapore for a fixed-term contract. If you travel in and out of Singapore extensively, rental or car-sharing may be a viable option.
Driving in Singapore has its unique quirks. One of these is the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP), a toll collected electronically via a network of gantries on several expressways and major roads. The ERP was devised to ease congestion on roads, especially during peak hours. All vehicles in Singapore have an In-vehicle Unit (IU) installed, which holds a cashcard. To use roads with the ERP gantry in operation, simply insert your cash card into the IU and the fee will be deducted automatically. The cashcard may be topped up at most convenience stores and petrol stations.
Many carparks in shopping malls and buildings conveniently make use of the IU and cashcard to deduct parking charges. Some public carparks however, especially open-air carparks and curbside parking along roads, utilise the coupon parking system. Parking coupons come in denominations of SGD 0.50, 1 and 2 (for overnight parking) and are sold in booklets of 10 or 20 coupons for each denomination. Just peel off the appropriate tabs for date and time and display the coupons on the dashboard of your car. To find out where to purchase the coupons and how to use them, click here.
Non-Singaporeans who have been in Singapore for more than 12 months, or who have decided to become Permanent Residents, will need to convert their foreign driving licences into a Singapore driving licence. A pass in the Basic Theory Test held by the Traffic Police is mandatory – this can be taken at any driving centre. Then apply for a licence conversion at any of these driving centres:
Taxis are readily available on Singapore streets, from a taxi stand, a phone or internet booking. You can also flag one from the side of the road, except in the city where you have to board and alight at taxi stands only. Fares too, are relatively cheap compared to other major cities in the world although there are various surcharges for ERP, peak hours, midnight, public holidays and certain locations such as Singapore Changi International Airport and Singapore Expo. Fares are all metered and surcharges are listed upfront.
For a small fee, booking a taxi is a convenient way of ensuring you have a taxi just when you need it. You can reach the following taxi companies at these numbers:
For greater comfort and premium service, you may wish to book an MPV, London cab, limousine cab or a Chrysler taxi from SMRT. These cabs are available for hire for one-way or multiple transfers, even per-hour charters.
The Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is by far one of the easiest and quickest ways to get around Singapore. Comprising four lines and 89 stations, the comprehensive network spans across most of Singapore. The trains are safe, clean and reliable, arriving every three to eight minutes from 5.30am to 12.30am daily.
The Light Rail Transit (LRT) is a feeder rail service of 14 stations, serving the Bukit Panjang and Choa Chu Kang estates.
Single trip tickets or the more convenient EZ-link card may be used on the MRT and LRT. The EZ-link card is a stored value card, allowing you multiple trips on trains and buses with rebates. Tickets and EZ-link cards may be purchased from any MRT or LRT station.
For more details on MRT routes, fares and travel times, visit the SMRT website.