Planning a day trip to JB but don’t know which bus to choose? If you are leaving from Queen Street, Bugis, here’s some tips on which bus company to pick, assuming you already know how to get to the Queen Street terminal. I’ll also list the steps you need to take before you reach Malaysia’s shores.
From Queen Street, there are three bus companies that leave for JB: Causeway Link, SBS and Singapore-Johor Express.
SBS Transit 170
Fare: S$1.93 (With EZ-Link card); $2.50 (Cash)
SBS Transit Website
Estimated Travel Time: 82 min
The most familiar bus company among the three. You might be tempted to board the 170 SBS Transit bus, thinking you can pay by EZ-Link and you’re in the hands of trusted Singapore[-based] drivers.
I do not suggest taking SBS unless it’s the very last bus you can take. (It happened to me once coming back from JB. It was almost midnight.)
Why shouldn’t you take SBS?
- It stops at every bus stop. While the other buses go directly to the checkpoints, SBS will stop at the bus stops along the way, picking up passengers.
- The queues hopping back on the bus from the checkpoints are always really really really long. Your fellow passengers taking Causeway Link will zip past you onto their yellow bus while you are stuck in the long queue. Too bad.
Causeway Link website
I like to call this The Yellow Bus and it’s my favorite bus company among the three listed here.
You should pick this over the others because:
- There are more buses ferrying you from the Singapore checkpoint to the Malaysian one, compared to Singapore-Johor Express.
- There are less passengers waiting for this at the checkpoint compared to SBS.
- When you leave from Queen Street, everyone gets a seat, unlike SBS where seats are first come first served.
- They accept payment using EZLink.
A con of the Causeway Link bus is that you get really weird people on board. There was once a grandpa who told his grandson really loud: There are no toilets along the way and you can pee in the bottle if you need to.
By the way, if you are taking Causeway Link from JB to Singapore, just hop on whichever yellow bus is there regardless of its destination. The driver will charge you accordingly and you just switch to the right bus after Woodlands.
I only took the SJE once for my trip to Larkin and onwards to Seremban. My travel buddy and I chose SJE because it seemed to have the most buses heading to Larkin. (The time when we took Causeway Link to Larkin, we had to wait in line for a long long time after the Malaysian checkpoint. The passengers were ruthless in grabbing seats too.)
If you are only heading to JB Sentral, not Larkin, then DO NOT take SJE. Their bus frequency from the Singapore customs to Malaysia is really low so if your passport checking took a bit more time, you’ll have to wait for the next bus to come in about 20 minutes time. Gag.
They only accept cash so keep plenty with you.
Good points about SJE:
- Less passengers with children.
- Tour bus-like seats.
- Low frequency bus
Their bus ticket is the really old school type so if you want a souvenir from the past, hop on.
What to do at checkpoint
Now that you are on the bus, take a nap and your vehicle will get you to the Woodlands Checkpoint.
At the checkpoint, bring your stuff with you and get your passport stamped/checked.
Hold on to your ticket, and queue up where your bus will stop. So for SBS’s head to the long line, Causeway Link is on the far right and SJE is where not many people are queuing.
Show your ticket to the conductor and off you go to Malaysia!
Getting back to Singapore from JB by bus
This actually warrants its own post but here quick tips of how you can get back to Singapore.
Assuming it is before 11pm, you still have the above three choices to come back to Queen Street.
I’ll still recommend taking Causeway Link because there’s not as many people as SBS. Also, you can hop on any yellow bus at the JB customs because you’ll only need to take the one you need to take after the Singapore Customs. Prepare RM2.50 (so much cheaper than going!)
If it’s past 11pm, your only choice will be the SBS buses. Oh well, at least there’s not queue.
PS I was interviewed by Singapore papers The Straits Times because of this post.[Pricing updated on 1 September 2015]