Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
Singapore is a small-but-highly-developed island nation located just off the southern tip of Peninsular Malaysia in Southeast Asia. The country gains its traction as the highly developed country in Southeast Asia with one of the world’s strongest economies. Despite its size, Singapore boasts one of the countries with efficient transport system due to its systematic, extensive, and comprehensive network of roads.
Hailed as one of the most cost-efficient public transport networks in the world, Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is the backbone of the public transport system in Singapore. The MRT was officially launched in 1988 and now comprises four main lines: North-South, East-West, North-East and Circle. Many people find the transport in Singapore is a breeze with the highly efficient MRT system – the fastest way to zip around the city without fuss.
A Brief History of Singapore’s MRT
The MRT in Singapore has come a long way. It all began when city planners proposed a rail-based transport system in 1967. By the early eighties, despite all objections (due to high cost and labour shortage), the decision to build a rail-based transport system was finally made in May 1982.
The proposal of building of MRT was underpinned by the Comprehensive Traffic Study in 1981. The study showed that an all-bus system in the country was not practical and efficient. However, a mass transit rail system would have a tremendous influence in shaping the economic growth and development of Singapore. In this light, the construction of MRT started shortly at Toa Payoh and Novena after a ground-breaking ceremony held at Shan Road on 22nd October 1983.
The Mass Rapid Transit Corporation (MRTC) was set up on 14th October 1983 as the organisation to oversee all roles and responsibilities of the train network. In 1995, MRTC combined with the Registry of Vehicles and Roads & Transportation Division and formed the new Land Transport Authority (LTA). As of now, the LTA regulates and oversees the operation of the MRT system. The SMRT Trains Ltd (North-South, East-West and Circle lines) and SBS Transit (North-East line) are the two operators that are responsible for the daily running of the MRT system.
The MRT Lines & Stations
- The North-South (NS) Line
As the first MRT line in operation, the NS Line connected the city to the residential towns of Yishun, Ang Mo Kio and Bishan. Officially opened on 7th November 1987, the 5-station section between Yio Chu Kang and Toa Payoh was then extended to Raffles Place one month later and the Yishun and Marina Bay stations were added by the end of 1990. The second phase of the NS Line development completed in February 1996, connecting Yishun to Choa Chu Kang and a continuous loop to the branch line of the East-West (EW) Line was then being established.
- The East-West (EW) Line
The first section of the EW Line consists of two interchanges (City Hall, Raffles Place) and two stations (Tanjong Pagar, Outram Park). It was officially opened on the 12th December 1987, about one month after the launch of the NS Line. It expands rapidly to Lakeside and the eastern section (that linked City Hall to Tanah Merah) completed by early 1990.
The Map of MRT
When you look at the map of MRT, you will find yourself looking at lines with different colours. The colour codes of the MRT Lines have come a long way – it evolved from NS Line’s red-yellow band and EW Line’s blue-green to red (NS Line), green (EW Line), purple (NE Line), orange (CC Line) and blue (DT Line). In summary, they are Red, Purple, Green, Yellow (Circle Line), and Blue (Downtown Line). Once you get the hang of it, you can travel around the island in a breeze.
You can get tickets for single trips, or simply purchase a Singapore Tourist Pass (only if you intend to use the MRT and basic bus services frequently during your visit). A special EZ-Link stored-value card is also very handy – it allows you to have unlimited travel for one day (S$10), two days (S$16) or three days (S$20). You can buy the cards at the TransitLink Ticket Office at the MRT stations (Orchard, City Hall, Raffles Place, Bayfront, Tanjong Pagar, Harbourfront, Chinatown, Farrer Park, Changi Airport, Bugis, Lavender, Jurong East, Kranji, Woodlands, Ang Mo Kio) or at the Concession Card Replacement Office at Somerset station.