Saturday, 21 December 2013

The MRT

One thing you get told about Singapore is that its transport system is pretty good.  As food and drink isn’t allowed on the trains or the stations (and as, quite frankly, its Singapore) its very clean and feels very safe.
When I arrived a neighbour kindly gave me a spare ez-link card which would have cost me $5 otherwise.  These cards hold whatever sum of money you put on them and can be used instead of paying cash whilst on buses and at MRT stations.  You can get cards at Singpost outlets (but you only pay the $5 as you cant actually top up the card).  7elevens (which will charge you $10 all together-$5 for the card, and $5 of stored credit).  As well as at a ticket office in an MRT station (which will charge you $12 for $7 worth of credit).  The $5 for the card is non refundable so when I buy spares for visitors I will be able to pass them onto new expats when we leave Singapore.
As I don’t work and only use the MRT and buses a couple of times a week it doesn’t work out as good value for me to buy one of ez-link season passes which are sold on a weekly or monthly basis. 
The ez-link cards make it really easy to explore as there is no fear of missing your stop and being told off, or taking time to count out the new coins you’re unsure of whilst everyone is waiting to go.  Although I have been in both of those situations and everyone was actually really kind and patient with me!  When I got to an MRT station I was really pleased that it was easy to navigate too.  It works out cheaper to have one of these cards instead of always paying cash too.  For example it cost me $1.10 to get from Dover Road to Clementi Mall on the bus, but only 87cents with the card.
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You have to press your card to the barrier to be let through and follow the signs to find out which side of the tracks you have to go to for where you want to go.  I found that in the beginning, when I didn’t really know the lines, that it was best to roughly remember the end stations on your line so you knew which way was home, and which way was ‘out’.  On my line I knew that Joo Koon was home and Pasir Ris was the way to head into the city.
My station is Dover which is only on the green line, however you might have a busier station as the one nearest your home.  If you do, it will invariably be larger, but again really well sign posted for you to get about.  One thing which I didn’t quite understand until I tried to take a short cut is that the stations can be underground caverns and to change line will have you walking quite a distance.  Sometimes it’s easier to stay on the line for a bit longer and only change once, than it is to take three short journeys on three lines as you might waste a lot of time walking between routes in the station.  This is probably really obvious, however it took me quite a long time to figure this out.
One final thing to say is WE’RE ON AN ISLAND, HOW LOST CAN YOU GET?  This is another thing that took me a while to get.  When I was 14 I travelled from Aberdeen to Andover by train…via Wales.  I got lost, but I got there.  I added over 200 miles to my trip in the end, but I got there.  The thing is, you aren’t going to get too lost on the MRT, I normally have more trouble with the escalators that cover two levels at once than I do on the trains, so I urge you to get out and explore as quickly as you can!