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Taking Public Buses in Singapore

Yes we know, riding on a bus is a no-brainer, but knowing the dos and don’ts will not get you into a frenzy because you gave a fifty dollar bill for a $1.20 bus fare and get told “Sorry, no change!”

1. Know where you’re going!

You can take buses from the bus terminals, often situated at housing areas, or from bus stops. The bus stops and and routes are fixed so identify which bus number to take and from where you should board. The bus directories at the bus stops will let you know where the buses pass by and stop. If you know the bus number you should be taking but don’t see your destination indicated on the directory, it means you are on the wrong side of the road. Chances are there is a bus stop on the other side of the road and you should be taking the bus in the other direction. We love gothere.sg because it gives you the best route on all transport options (bus, train, taxi, driving, walking), tells you how long the journey will take and even how much the fare will cost you. All you have to do is to key in the location and destination in the search bar at gothere.sg.  The frequency of buses are pretty high – about 8 minutes on average during peak hours and 15 minutes during non-peak hours.

2. Card or cash?

Travelling around Singapore is a whole lot easier with an EZ-Link card (click here for more info on the EZ-Link card). Make sure you have with sufficient credit in the card ($3 minimum). The bus fare is slightly cheaper if you pay using the EZ-Link card. Another benefit using the card is that if your route requires rides on 2 buses, or a train and a bus, then there is some savings on the fare too and less credit is deducted each time you tap out. If you are paying by cash, make sure you have enough loose change because no change is given. The fare is not fixed, so the longer the journey, the more it costs. If you use an EZ-Link card, the fare is automatically deducted when you tap in and out on the card readers in the buses. If you are using coins, you can check how much you need to pay from the bus directories at the bus terminal or bus stop. If not, tell the bus driver where you are headed and he will tell you how much the fare is. Having some coins would come in handy to pay the exact fare because no change will be given. (You may top up you EZ-Link card at MRT stations by cash or a Nets card. Some bus stops have a top-up machine, albeit it accepts payment by Nets only.) Tip: If you’re on a short holiday in Singapore, you may want to get the EZ-Link Tourist Pass for unlimited rides on the buses and trains at a flat day fee! Visit http://www.thesingaporetouristpass.com.sg/ for details.

3. Wait (as all good things require)

If you are at a bus terminal, wait at the queue showing your bus number on a placard. Bus terminals and main bus stops have real time information on how many minutes the bus will arrive in.

Bus terminal
A bus terminal

4. No pay, no board

As you board the bus, tap your EZ-Link on either of the 2 card readers at the entrance. If you are paying cash, drop your coins into the box next the driver. For cash payments, a ticket stub will be printed from the ticket machine near the entrance.
Tip: Sometimes, an officer in a white uniform will step onto the bus at random and check if every passenger has paid. So if you paid in cash, keep your ticket stub because he would ask to check it. If you paid using card, he would just scan it on his reader device to check.

5. Press the bell!

Buses stop at designated bus stops. The bus drivers don’t stop at every bus stop unless someone’s alighting, or someone is flagging down the bus at the bus stop. As you are approaching destination, press any of the red ‘stop’ buttons located on the poles in the bus to indicate you wish to alight at the next stop. If you are unsure where to alight, just ask the bus driver.

6. Tap out when you alight

If you paid by EZ-Link card, tap the same card on your way out at any of the 2 card readers at the exit. The bus fare will be deducted accordingly from your card’s stored value. If you forget to tap out, then the maximum fare will be deducted for that bus trip the next time the EZ-Link card is used so remember to do so!

Tip: If the bus is full and you are standing near the entrance wanting to alight, you may tap out and exit at the entrance.

Bus etiquette

– There are seats designated for the elderly, children, pregnant women, the disabled, or simply people who need look like they could do with a seat. Although there are designated seats for them, usually denoted by a different seat colour than the rest, it’s just courtesy to give up your seat for those who need it!
– No drinking or eating is allowed in buses
– It can get pretty crowded during peak hours, so move in and let in others board! There are 2 major bus operators in Singapore with buses plying different routes – SBS Transit (red buses) and SMRT yellow buses. SBS Transit covers a wider bus network.

Soakinsg
Bringing you the sights & sounds (technology doesn't allow us to convey smells, yet) of every inch of Singapore and Singaporeans through our videos and words!

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