New train service slashes travel time for travellers
Singaporeans going to Johor Baru by bus for a weekend shopping trip can take up to about two hours to get there.
But thanks to a new shuttle train service, that arduous journey to JB Sentral has been reduced to a mere five minutes.
Operated by Malaysian rail operator Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM), the new shuttle train, which began operations last Wednesday, ferries commuters between the Woodlands Checkpoint and JB Sentral.
On Saturday, The New Paper tested the shuttle service along with other weekend shopping warriors.
Even at 9.25am - just five minutes before the last morning train was due to set off - commuters of all ages were still seen buying tickets and rushing to get on board the shuttle train at Woodlands.
Tickets cost S$5 from Woodlands and RM5 (S$1.80) from JB.
We followed the crowd and made our way past both the Singapore and Malaysia immigration counters, both of which are conveniently located at Woodlands, before hopping onto the train.
Because we had got on the train barely a minute before it moved off, we had trouble finding seats due to the free-seating policy.
By the time we located two empty seats, we were already in JB.
Meanwhile, the commuters, mostly made up of families, were already eagerly glancing out of the windows, taking selfies and chatting with one another.
The scene was similar on our return journey at 4pm.
By 3pm, many people had completed their shopping outings and were already waiting at the station for the gate to open.
One of them was Madam Ann Anthony, 54, who with her sister. They were seen carrying five plastic bags containing clothes, snacks and doughnuts.
Having spent almost 1½ hours travelling to JB Sentral by bus earlier in the morning, Madam Ann, who runs her own business, decided to test out the shuttle service for her return journey.
"It's so much faster, more efficient and more comfortable. I can be home by 5pm. I'm very happy that this shuttle service is running," said Madam Ann, who lives in Marsiling.
Another commuter, Mr H. S. Tan, 63, a retiree who was on his way home after visiting his sister, said he is considering making more trips across the Causeway.
"Nowadays, I travel to Malaysia about twice a month, but I'll have to see how, as it seems like the train will only get more popular and crowded with time," he said.
When we arrived back at Woodlands at 4.10pm, we saw a long queue of commuters preparing to board the first evening train for JB.
Among them was Ms Saadah Musa, 50, an accounts executive, who with her family of eight, including her sister, nieces and nephews.
"They should consider increasing the frequency of the trains. Maybe at 1pm or 2pm. We couldn't make it for the 9.30am one and had to take the first evening train," she said.
But most commuters whom TNP spoke to said they were excited about the long-term travelling convenience and efficiency.
Said Ms Saadah: "It's a bit more expensive as it's $5 for the trip to JB (compared with the bus, which costs about $2). But we have so many kids to take care of, so it's worth it."
Another commuter who wanted to be known only as Mr Zaki, 37, an administrative officer, was also heading to JB with his wife and two daughters, aged six and nine.
"Our kids were very excited. Now there's a quick mode of transport over to JB for shopping and for us to break fast. We usually only go to JB once in a blue moon, but now we can consider more trips," he said.
It's so much faster, more efficient and more comfortable. I can be home by 5pm. I'm very happy that this shuttle service is running.
- Madam Ann Anthony, with her sister
ABOUT SHUTTLE TEBRAU
The departure times from Woodlands station are 6.30am, 8am, 9.30am, 5pm, 6.30pm, 8pm and 11pm. From JB Sentral, the trains leave at 5.30am, 7am, 8.30am, 4pm, 5.30pm, 7pm and 10pm.
A trip costs $5 from Woodlands and RM5 (S$1.80) from JB. Each trip carries about 320 passengers.
With the new shuttle service, trains to and from KL Sentral, Butterworth and Gemas - which previously terminated at Woodlands stations - will now end at JB Sentral.
Commuters will have to use the Shuttle Tebrau to travel between JB and Singapore.