Singapore Public Transport: Now With Extra Free! (and/or expenses, depending on demographic)

It happened. The controversial Singapore public transport fare hike and the accompanying round of concessions.

Last week we ran down P’s child-sized ez-link card and set it aside for a year of free transport, which we’ve pretty much already paid for in lost ez-link cards because what sort of three-year-old can be responsible for his own card and/or persuaded to hand it over without a full-blown tantrum at every turnstile I don’t know, but still, high fives for the fare adjustment.

Yes, we tried getting him a lanyard and card holder. He managed to lose those, too.

Yes, we tried getting him a lanyard and card holder. He managed to lose those, too.

Previously, children in Singapore officially had to start paying fares when they reached 0.9m – and unofficially, when they started to look old enough to tap a card onto a reader and walk through a gate in a somewhat capable fashion. For both my kids, the former happened at age two, and the latter at age three, which, if you haven’t grasped it already, is still kind of young for a fare card.

As of April 6th, however, all kids under seven travel free, which is fantastic on buses where commuters once sat drumming their fingers as I tapped multiple cards to the reader whilst trying to move folded strollers, bags, and small people safely on and off, although slightly less fantastic at the MRT station, where we are still perfecting our three-through-the-gate-before-it-clamps-shut technique. I’m thinking if we ditch the stroller we can choreograph it like a scene from Mary Poppins, but I’ll let you know how that goes. Maybe we’ll keep the stroller and go for more of a Harry Potter thing.

Update: children over 90cm still require a fare card, but they will not be charged when they tap through – so no Mary Poppins for us. Their date of birth will be logged on their card (bring your child’s passport or ID card to any ticket counter to apply) and fares will be calculated based on age.  

In the meantime, if you’re out and about around Singapore with young kids because the public transport’s free for them now, you’ll probably want to know how to get where you’re going. These are the apps we use to find our way:

Free Apps We Use To Help Get Around Singapore

Google Maps

We all know it. This is fast becoming my most-used route planner around Singapore, beating out the route-planning competition.

See also: The app isn’t free, but you can open the journey planner in your phone’s browser without paying a thing. It can grab your current location and tell you which buses or trains to catch to your destination. Useful, even if it does give weird routes now and then.

SG NextBus 

Available for iOS (or android if downloaded as part of the MyTransport.SG package, below). The app automatically locates your nearest stop and tells you which buses serve it. Then you can get an estimated arrival time so your children can make sure to pipe up wanting to go to the toilet at the very last moment. Includes maps. Of bus stops, not nearby toilets. Roughly accurate, most of the time.

See also: SBS IRIS – which is available on a wider range of platforms, but for a narrower range of bus services. Since SBS runs most buses, it’s almost as comprehensive in practice.


This new, integrated app includes bus arrival information powered by NextBusSG, as well as an MRT map and various driving and parking info. We prefer to open NextBusSG directly, but if you haven’t memorised the MRT map yet or you go places by car or taxi, this one has the edge.

Comfort and CityCab Booking App

When you get lost anyway, despite the route planner and public transport apps, you can open this one and have it use your phone’s GPS to tell a driver from Singapore’s most ubiquitous cab company where to come get you. Note: calling a cab entails a booking fee, so try hailing off the street if you can.

See also: Christy of Kids R Simple recommends GrabTaxi for an easy-to-use app that doesn’t tie you to a particular company. also has apps for Bangkok and Manila.

Free dice apps

For when all else fails.

See also: walk randomly til beer.

P utilises our dice navigation system.

P uses the analogue version of a free dice app on our experimental travel adventure around Singapore.

If you’ve got a favourite I’ve missed, or an electronic navigation system for your town you think everybody should know about, let me know. Links to topical posts on the subject are welcome, especially if I’m allowed to pin and/or list them here.

Free Transport Apps for Singapore

Disclosure: the only compensation I’m getting for this post is the smug feeling of self-satisfaction that comes from dispensing one’s unsolicited advice. 

This post appeared first at Journeys of the Fabulist.