Changi Airport/EZ Link Cards & the MRT
Singapore Travel Blog› entry 7 of 7 › view all entries
January 31st, 2009 – by: YuKai
After flying in from Kuala Lumpur in the morning, Felicia and I took a wander through Changi airport after collecting our bags just to 'see what we could see'. It was my first time in Changi airport when not participating in a plane transfer so I wanted to make the most of it while I could. After realising what the time was (close to 10:30am) I decided my time was better spent exploring outside the airport rather than inside. I found a payphone and called ahead to my old uni buddy, Eldric, as he was going to pick us up from Newton train station near his house. The offer was put on the table for a direct pick up from the airport, but as a self-confessed 'explorer traveller' how could I give up the opportunity to ride the MRT for the first time?
After finding the airport MRT station, we approached the little manned booth at the ticket gate and asked about ticket purchases, where we were greeted by the rudest MRT employee in Singapore, whose blatant "Can't you read the sign?" response as he pointed to a "Ticket Machine -->" was both shocking and helpful. Indeed it did point out the location of the ticket machine, but as tourists technically in Singapore for about 15 minutes a little slack would have been nice!
EZ Link Cards
We each bought one of the EZ Link cards, which is highly recommended if you are in Singapore for even a day. For those who don't know, an EZ Link card is basically a credit card for public transport. I think it was about $15 Singaporean to buy one, which had a limited amount of credit on it. When you go through an MRT ticket gate you swipe the card on the grey sensor (or at the bus entrance if on a bus), and then at the gate when you leave the destination station (or the bus exit when you leave the bus). This automatically docks the fare from your card's balance. When you get low on card funds, you can top them up at any MRT station or bus interchange. Also, if you decide you're done with one you can return it back to one of the top up machines and get some money back (not much, but hey it's more than you can get for a used bus ticket in Australia!).
I believe if you are driving you can also use these in your cars to get through the tolls, but don't quote me on that one!
You can also get single trip cards (which are green) from the ticket machines and are a fixed price depending on where you want to travel to and from. The ticket machines are pretty easy going, and the ones I looked at are available in a few of the more popular languages of the world. It's essentially a touch screen where you indicate where you are headed, giving you the price and the distance from where you currently are, and any transfers required if you need.
The MRT itself is really not as complex as the map makes it look. The maps are colour coded to the stations themselves, so if you are at Newton station for example, the station will have a red outline around its name, as it corresponds to the red line on the MRT map. There's only three lines in Singapore, so it's pretty difficult to get lost so long as you keep your wits about you. The only time you might run into a problem is if you need to do an interchange between lines. Even then, the stations are quite clearly marked, and so long as you know where you are going, the signs should lead the way quite easily.
Another convenient factor is that the trains come so often, so if you find yourself getting on the right coloured line but travelling in the wrong direction (which errrr...... I might have done at least once), then you can simply get off at the next station and walk across to the opposite side of the platform and wait for the train going back in the other direction! You will only need to wait 5 minutes or so maximum, which is long enough in a place with as many things to do as Singapore!
Also, at each station platform there is a map of the coloured line you are about to travel on, telling you where you are now, how long to get to each station on the line, and where the transfer stations are. FYI -to get from one side of a line to another doesn't usually take more than 45 minutes to an hour - Singapore is not a big place!
In short - I found the Singapore MRT to be the most efficient form of public transport I've ever been on so far. It's perfectly suited to the traveller wanting to explore as much of Singapore as he/she possibly can with little inconvenience or cost, and with fast timing as well.
Just remember - No eating or drinking on the MRT, no smoking, and no durains (I'm serious), or you will cop some nasty fines!
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