Our nations pride and joy
Considering how vast the network of our public transport is today, it’s hard to imagine that just 25 years ago, the MRT only operated a single line throughout the entire island. Whether we’re on the bus rushing to get to work on time or taking the train to catch up with our besties in town, we’ve become so dependant on our transport system that life in Singapore wouldn’t be the same without it.
Sure, our public transport has had its fair share of mishaps over the years that have sent us ranting on social media, but these modern chariots are still in a class of its own on the scale of transport systems around the world. From free WiFi available on every line to express buses that will get you to work on time at peak periods, here are 10 reasons why our public transport has earned its title as one of the world’s best.
1. Buskers can now perform live in MRT stations
Waiting for the train just got a whole lot more interesting. Under the National Arts Council’s Busking Scheme, buskers can now perform at 15 stations which include busy stations like Bishan and Jurong East. Buskers can even perform in groups of up to 10 people!
But don’t get me wrong, singing well in the shower is not gonna cut it and not just any Johnny or Fatimah can start serenading the public. You actually have to audition before you can start busking at the MRT, so you can be assured you’re getting some quality performances worth taking out your earphones for. Singapore’s Ed Sheeran, we’re waiting for you!
2. You can get home after supper at 2am without cabbing
Unlike in most countries around the world, succumbing to the exorbitant midnight charge for cabs or Ubers isn't your only transport option after late night shenanigans on the weekends. With bus services like NightRider and Nite Owl, you can get home safely and have enough spare cash to grab supper from your neighbourhood McDonald’s. Such bliss.
These bus services operate after midnight on Fridays, Saturdays and the eves of Public Holidays, travelling all around the island from places like Marina Centre Terminal to Bedok and even Choa Chu Kang! The fares for Nite Owl range from $0.84 - $4.40 and NightRider services cost $4.50 per trip, payable by your regular MRT card or cash.
Here's an added perk: NightRider commuters who pay by card will also enjoy a free transfer to another NightRider service within a time window of 45 minutes.
3. Express buses will save your butt during peak hours
You’ve probably seen buses with an ‘e’ after the bus number on the streets. No, you won't end up at Pulau Ubin instead of Yishun if you board these buses. These buses are Fast Forward buses that are available only during the morning and evening peak hours. Through taking a series of flexible routes to avoid traffic congestion and bypassing certain bus stops, these buses will save you a decent amount of travel time.
Find out which buses have Fast Forward services here.
4. Believe or not - it’s one of the most affordable in the world
Ok even I’ll admit it, the hike in transport fees in 2015 made my heart ache every time I tapped my card on the gantry. Having to sacrifice a drink or two and maybe even having to forgo upsizing my fast food meals just to make up sure I had enough money to top up my card was painfully daunting. #FirstWorldProblems. But if you were to compare our transport fares to some other countries, you’ll be surprised how affordable our public transport really is.
With monthly concession passes for buses and trains available for students and the elderly, bus rides costing a maximum of $3 and free rides for children below the age of 7, tell me again how public transport is too expensive.
5. You can connect to free WiFi at 33 MRT stations...
The struggle is real when you want to stream the latest episode of your Korean Drama for the train ride home but you only have 30mb more to spare for this month's data cap. In times like this, the free WiFi at 33 MRT stations is a godsend. By 2020, you’ll be able to enjoy free WiFi at ALL MRT and LRT stations. LTA is even researching the feasibility of WiFi being available within the trains itself!
Gone will be the days of feeling guilty for watching a YouTube video or opening your friend’s Snapchats.
Find out which MRT stations have free WiFi here.
6. ...and charge your devices when they’re out of juice
Mention anything you can do or get for free and you’ll command the attention of any Singaporean. So, when there’s free charging ports at MRT stations - expect to find a queue of kiasu Singaporeans who would rather charge their phones in public than use their own electricity at home.
If you’re the type of person who gets anxiety attacks whenever your battery hits 50%, you can charge your mobile devices at City Hall, Orchard, Tanjong Pagar, Kent Ridge, and Ang Mo Kio MRT stations.
7. You can get free money just by traveling!
If you didn’t already know about Travel Smart Rewards, you’re in for a real treat! Travel Smart Rewards is a system that lets you earn reward points every time you take the train. If you travel during decongesting hours (6.15 am - 7.15 am or 8.45 am - 9.45 am on weekdays), you can earn up to three times as many points!
Every Saturday, your points will automatically be used as "tokens" in a Spin to Win game where you can stand to win monetary prizes of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 and $200 as well as a monthly lucky draw prize of $1,500! Learn more about Travel Smart Rewards here.
8. Our network is accessible for the disabled and elderly
It’s heartening to know about the many different handicap-friendly facilities that have been implemented within MRT stations and public buses. From the tactile guidance system installed at all MRT stations, selected bus stops and bus interchanges, to barrier-free facilities within the MRT stations and wheelchair-accessible buses and toilets, our public transport system is made with everyone in mind.
9. You can get from one side of the island to another in about an hour
If you don’t have a car, the MRT is the best option to get around in Singapore - unless someone figures out the mystery of teleportation. Till then, you can still get around the different corners of Singapore, from Jurong East to Marina Bay or Joo Koon to Pasir Ris in only one Korean drama episode!
10. You only have to wait a maximum of 7 minutes for a train
Even with the crowds milling about you during peak hours, you’ll still get on a train within 10 minutes of getting to the platform, even if you don't get into the first train you see. And if you’re complaining that you have to wait up to five to seven minutes for the train, remember: that’s barely 2 songs worth of waiting!
Considering how the public transport systems in other countries aren’t as consistent and can completely shut down due to strikes, at least you know that in Singapore, bus drivers only go on strike once a century!
Get rewarded for your travels
There you have it, our transport system in a nutshell - not so bad after all, right? If you still need more incentives to be convinced about our public transport system, there is free stuff coming your way!
NETS FlashPay is the preferred contactless payment mode integrated within your bank card that gives you 10% rebates for free MRT rides! The same card gives you tap and pay convenience at retail spaces, so you can grab a quick drink or snack before taking your bus or train.
Just follow these steps to enjoy 10% rebates:
1. Top up NETS FlashPay on your bank card at any local bank ATMs, NETS self-service top up machine or Add Value Machine Plus (AVM+) and enjoy a 10% rebate for every $10 NETS FlashPay top-up
2. Tap and travel with your bank card
3. Redeem travel rebates at any AVM+ and enjoy your free rides!
Being paid for going about your everyday life - now that’s the real dream.
This post was brought to you by NETS FlashPay.