There’s been a lot of talk of turning Singapore into a car-lite city. Now, you would think that means people should be getting excited about a better and faster public transport system. But instead, many Singaporeans are worrying about the fact that the cost of living will be so high by then that they won’t be able to to afford cars, thus being forced to squeeze on public transport and turning Singapore into a car-lite city.
While living within walking distance of an MRT station solves many of your public transport woes, right now accessibility is still a problem for the many households who are forced to rely on maddeningly infrequent feeder bus services (the longest I’ve waited for one was 1 hour 10 minutes).
If you’re in the uncomfortable territory of 2 to 5 km from the nearest MRT station, here are some alternative modes of transportation you might want to adopt before Singapore truly goes car-lite.
You don’t need to be 15 years old or dress like a bad imitation of Avril Lavigne to be able to to enjoy the use of a longboard. These boards are fairly portable and lightweight, meaning you won’t have any trouble taking them with you on the MRT. Being able to bring them around with you also means you can use them to scoot down Orchard Road or to the office.
The main reason more people have eschewed longboards in favour of kick scooters is the fact that the learning curve for longboard cruising is higher. But when you think about it, it still takes way longer to get a driver’s or motorcyclist’s licence from one of our local driving schools.
Unless you’re a senior citizen, learning to cruise on a longboard for transportation purposes is very doable and you should be functional within a couple of days, and comfortable within weeks. Once you’ve mastered that, you’ll be able to move faster almost anywhere, whether you’re rushing to get to the MRT station or heading for lunch in the hot sun during the work day.
These are already a big hit amongst Singaporeans, who’ll do anything to shorten the amount of time spent under the hot sun. It does take a bit of skill to be able to manoeuvre one deftly, but these things aren’t that difficult to ride.
There are all types of kick scooters available these days, from the cheap metal ones you can buy at Giant to high tech ones that look just one step below Segways. They’re portable enough to take with you on the MRT and there are also foldable models available.
If you were a 90s kid, you probably went through a phase where you thought rollerblading was the coolest sport ever. You might or might not have spent a portion of your youth hanging out at Youth Park beside Cineleisure.
These days, roller blading isn’t exactly the hippest sport around, but if you can ignore the naysayers it’s a killer workout and gets you from point A to B much faster than walking can.
One huge disadvantage is the fact that you need to carry your shoes around with you everywhere you go. You’re not allowed to roller blade on the MRT—it would probably give you an unfair edge over all the aunties and uncles rushing into the same cabin.
If you’re not skilled enough to negotiate slopes and moderate hills, you’ll also have to go through the hassle of changing in and out of your blades whenever you encounter them.
The original self-propelled vehicle, the bicycle, has now become a bit of a fashion and lifestyle statement, what with the hipsters on their fixies, the traiathlete wannabes on their road bikes and the rugged folks on their mountain bikes. Virtually everyone can ride a bicycle. And even if you’re not about to sweat it out all the way from home to the office, your bicycle can make your commute to the MRT station much faster.
However, the “low crime doesn’t mean no crime” platitude has never rung truer than in the face of the high bike theft rate here. Lock your fancy fixie with the neon wheels at the MRT station and you’ll be lucky to recover the handlebars when you get back.
Singaporeans’ response to this has been to purchase foldable bicycles instead. Many of these models can be taken with you on the MRT and then stored at the office.
Once the domain of clowns, unicycles are becoming quite a common sight in Singapore, the electric kind, that is. They might look a bit too out of this world for the typical Singaporean, but the fact that they’re technically allowed on pavements is a big plus, since inconsiderate drivers routinely endanger cyclists’ lives on the road.
In fact, if you live in a fairly central suburb like Boon Keng or Queenstown, you might even be able to make your entire commute to work on electric unicycle, since unlike bicycles these contraptions are battery-powered and don’t require you to actually sweat it out. They can also be taken with you on the MRT. Still, at over 10 kg these things are not light, so you’re probably not going to be taking them shopping.
Priced at about $500 to $2,500, they’re not cheap, but when you consider that motorcycle COEs are approaching a crazy $7,000 now, it’s a relatively affordable investment. And while there’s a learning curve, most people get their bearings within a few days.
As an added bonus, it’s hands-free, so you can shelter yourself from the sun with an umbrella like all the ladies during lunchtime in the CBD do. It might add to your clown-factor, though.
Riding on Back to the Future Nostalgia, hoverboards are gaining in popularity in Singapore, and they’re actually a pretty viable option if you’ve got a long walk to the MRT station. They’re slower than electric unicycles, but they’re also lighter and more portable. At about $600 to $800, they’re also a tad cheaper.
In terms of difficulty, learning to ride a hoverboard is similar to learning to ride an electric unicycle. Unfortunately, like electric unicycles, they’re also quite heavy, and so not practical to carry around with you if you’re going to a shopping mall or similar.
The main drawback that would sway a commuter in favour of the electric unicycle is the fact that hoverboards don’t handle sidewalks and other terrain as well as do unicycles, which are equipped with bigger wheels.
Would you consider travelling to the MRT station using any of the above? Tell us in the comments!