Home » Living in US » Public Transportation – Buses, Trains, Taxis – Singapore Vs USA

Public Transportation – Buses, Trains, Taxis – Singapore Vs USA

The ability to travel from one place to another is one of the key aspects to consider when you plan to relocate to a place. One should either be able to buy a car at a reasonable price, have the flexibility to maintain the same at a reasonable cost, and use the same to move around with less traffic jams.  Think of the benefits of using the car in New York over Subway? Which is faster?  If buying a car and using it daily for work is no good, you need to rely on the public transportation and taxis. Lets look at some of these options in Singapore vs USA.

Use of Car vs. Buses and Trains in Singapore vs USA

In America, if you live in a small or mid-size town, your options for public transport are very limited and having a car turns out to be a necessity. Unlike in large cities like New York, public transport options are very good and using a car does not benefit you much from either traffic jams or parking fee. So, depending on the place you live in America, you have a choice to either buy/use care daily or have one and use it only for weekend trips and rely on public transportation for the most part. In major cities like New York, the public transport system is reasonably good and you can use them. For the most part, public transport options in major cities are decent in US, but not the best in the world.

Now, if you look at Singapore, it is a densely populated city and affording a car is difficult due to the high cost (Not the car, just the certificate of entitlement for 10 year for a car can range from 38,000 USD to 42,000 USD), we will cover this in other article.  So, technically, if you are a middle class or upper middle class person, you are forced to use public transport options like Trains and Buses.

 Trains – Rapid Transit option – Singapore MRT

Singapore’s rapid transit option via train is called MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and is operated by company called SMRT.  Similar to many other cities in the world, they are spread across the entire city and let you travel very fast between most of the key points of work and other popular areas. The key differentiators for Singapore’s MRT are the affordability and cleanliness. You are not allowed to have food or any drinks in MRT terminals or trains, this solves a lot of the cleanliness issues. In Singapore everything is monitored by cameras, people tend not to break any rules at any point as the fines can be quite high…You may read a nice article on How does Singapore MRT compare with Subways of world . The trains operate from about 5:30 AM to midnight.

 Bus Options in Singapore – SMRT, SBS Transit

The other option is to use Buses. Most of the buses are operated by two big players SMRT and SBS Transit. SBS owns about 75 % of the market with fleet of over 3000 buses.  Besides these there are few other private bus options, but the usage is only for point to point. The key thing to remember is that, Singapore Govt. oversees these buses and trains and tries to control congestion by giving them options like give incentives for commuters to use different times for reducing congestion and add more buses as needed. The buses are clean, just like the MRTs. All of them are air conditioned. You will see double decker buses for all busy routes. The frequency of buses is also very high. You can get a bus every 10 minutes for most of the popular routes.  The buses, trains and their stations all are wheel chair friendly and have equal options for the disabled citizens, similar to America.  I find the buses in Singapore much cleaner, prompt than in America. Buses operate till very late like some routes have buses even at 1:30 AM. So, if you go out to grab a drink, you can still take bus and come home.

Taxis in Singapore :

Due to high cost of owning a car, for flexibility many use taxis. There are quite a few taxis in Singapore. Similar to any other large city in USA. Now a days with Uber, the number of taxi options have almost doubled. There is also a local Mobile App player in Asia called Grab taxi, like Uber, but for taxis as well, to help people get taxis.  The thing I love about Taxis in Singapore is that they are clean and the taxi drivers do NOT cheat. In countries like Philippines, India, Indonesia…you can get cheated by taxi drivers…but, Not in Singapore…The taxis are very affordable, the base fare during day time is only $2.45 USD.  It is quite affordable and very convenient for anyone to use it. They operate 24×7 and they are very safe…not to worry….

Overall, one of the key things that Singapore Govt. has in their vision is to have either a bus stop or train station for every 200 to 250 meters. That’s quite outstanding, isn’t it ? It may not be a direct apples to apples comparison, but it is fair to say that the public transport options in Singapore are way better than America in terms of cleanliness and affordability.  If you relocate here, you would probably end up using the public transport options, instead of buying a car as you may not see real value for car with the cost of the same.

Did I miss anything ?  What has been your experience living in Singapore and America ? Would love to hear your thoughts…

You may read other articles of the Series Living in US vs Singapore – Move back ?


Other Articles


  1. This is awesome Kumar. The articles on Singapore have really taken this blog to the next level.

    Even though my personal experiences in Singapore are not so rosy, I definitely appreciate a different point of view.

    Great going. Keep them coming.

  2. Just to add to the above points, all buses are very well connected with GPS. There are couple of mobile apps which will provide bus real time arrival information along with journey plan accurately.


Leave a Comment