Since 2015 KTM has run a commuter train between Johor Bahru and Singapore. The trains run from JB Sentral to Woodlands in Singapore (and the reverse). The cost is much higher from Singapore to JB. For whatever reason that is how the buses are priced too, the price is for example 5 MYR from JB to Singapore and Sing$5 from Singapore to JB. Since 1 Singapore dollar is 3.1 MYR that makes the price much higher from Singapore.
The train ride itself takes under 10 minutes. The schedule is subject to change but runs more frequently in the morning (from JB) and in the evening (from Singapore) and infrequently during the day. It is geared toward commuters from Johor Bahru to jobs in Singapore which is why the times may seem a bit odd at first glance.
Remember you have to pass through customs before getting on the train. They have made the process faster by having you go through both country’s customs office before boarding the train. With the bus you have to go through customs, go over the bridge, then get off the bus and go through customs again and then get back on the bus. This obviously wastes time. The JB extension to the Singapore MRT (whenever it finally gets started and then completed) will use this improved process of clearly both customs at the same time.
Frankly I find the KTM website too confusing to use. You may also purchase tickets via this site. Even on this site you have to be careful to get the right ticket (the results will include some that are not going between JB and Singapore – maybe that will be fixed when you look, but be careful).
The current schedule is (remember this may well change so try the links above for current information)
Johor Bahru to Singapore Train Schedule
Johor Bahru CIQ
The Johor Bahru Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine Complex (CIQ) is a very large complex at the causeway to Singapore that accommodates Malaysian customs check for cars, trucks, buses and the JB Sentral train station. The CIQ was opened in 2008. The complex is know as CIQ – if you tell a taxi for example they will know where you mean to go if you say CIQ.
Looking up to Johor Bahru CIQ from the street (all photos by John Hunter)
Queues are often reasonable but at rush hour (especially leaving Singapore on Friday’s and near public holidays) can be long. In several ways taking the bus is quite appealing (costs of bringing a car into Singapore plus tolls and there are significant restrictions on taxis that make that option difficult) but the walking from the entrance to the custom lines is quite a distance so that will add 5 minutes to your time. And waiting for a bus once you clear customs can add another 5 – 10 minutes. [update – given all the long delays and complaints from people they reopened walking over the causway as an option. A newspaper story in 2016 claimed 300,000 people walk across each day, that surprises me and I am not 100% sure the number is accurate]
The 2nd link (to the West) has shorter queues currently (these are the only 2 links between Singapore and Johor Bahru now). That is one of the reasons many people have been buying out near the 2nd link. Also that is a focus area for the Iskandar economic development initiative and the available of housing estates with integrated security and new bungalows is another attraction.
JB Sentral, which opened in 2010, is located in the same area and includes the train station and a large bus terminal.
Singapore and Malaysia have been taking recently about extending the MRT (light rail) from Singapore into Johor Bahru before the end of this decade and the likely location of the first stop is JB Sentral. This MRT (and extending 5 to 7 more stops in Johor Bahru will be a welcome improvement to mass transit and continue to build the economic ties between the two cities. Currently you have to take the long walk through Malaysian customs, then walk to the bus, take it over the causeway, walk through Singapore customs, catch the bus again and then got to the MRT (which for some reason isn’t the closer Woodlands MRT but the Kranji MRT). So just getting on the MRT in JB and clearing customs and getting right back on will be a big improvement. Of course they will have to add quite a few more customs staff to prevent long queues.
Related: Taking the Bus from Johor Bahru to Singapore – Residence Pass for Talented Expats – Penang Condo Market
Taking the bus from Johor Bahru, Malaysia to Singapore is easy once you know what to do.
First go to the Custom and Immigration Quarantine Complex (CIQ) in downtown Johor Bahru right near the causeway to Singapore. Walk through the complex to leave Malaysia (you need your passport, obviously). Once you clear Malaysian passport control you follow the signs to Singapore/Woodlands for the bus (on your left after you leave the passport area). You go downstairs and catch your bus. You pay for the bus, on the bus.
Lines for bus to Singapore at Malaysia CIQ. On the signs (and the ground) they list what buses the queues are for.
There are various options but the 3 most common are:
Queen Street (this gets you to downtown Singapore). You can take the CW2 (direct) of the 160 (many stops – so really you probably don’t want to chose this unless you want to get off before queen street). The Queen street stop lets you off right near Little India. Cost is under RM 4 (update 2014 – with increases in tolls the busses hiked fares by under 1 RM, they are a much better value now, since car and taxi tolls increases so much).
MRT – if you want to go to the Singapore MRT you can take the 170 or CW1 to Kranji station. Woodlands is the closest station but there isn’t a bus to there (that I know of). Cost is under RM 3 (after 2014 increase).
Airport – the airport bus takes you directly to the Changi Airport in Singapore and costs RM 7 (from Singapore to JB it costs SGD 7 – I am not sure of the prices after the 2014 increase). The bus is a small bus (seats about 20 maximum) – asking people where it is, will be the easiest way to find it. This bus only runs once an hour. This bus works great but you should be aware if you get stuck in customs trying to get into Singapore it is possible the bus will leave without you. If that happens catch the 170 to Kranji and take the MRT to the airport. I think the bus will wait 20 minutes for people to clear customs (and if several of you are not back yet the bus may wait, but missing it is something to consider).
Kranji MRT in Singapore. There is a bakery right where the bus lets you off. To catch the bus back to Customs you have to cross over the road so you are on the opposite side from the MRT.
The busses will take you across the causeway to Singapore and then you will disembark (with any luggage and belongings) and go through Singapore customs and then go back downstairs and catch your bus. The CW1, CW2, 170 and 160 run frequently during the day and evening (every few minutes to every 15 minutes for some).
Overall it is an easy process and doesn’t take too long. But at rush hours (especially Friday night or on holidays) it can get very busy and backed up. I hear the morning rush from JB into Singapore is pretty bad, but I have gone a bit later (9:30 AM) when I have gone, and it has been fine (most of the time).
The prices are from Singapore to JB are the same number but in SGD which means about 2.5 times as much money. So, for example, from Queen Street to JB is $3.30 (versus 3.30 RM).
Related: Bus to Jusco in Permas Jaya – Plaza Pelangi in Johor Bahru Town – resources for living in Johor Bahru
I took the bus from downtown Johor Bahru to the Jusco (hypermarket) in Permas Jaya. From downtown you take bus number 123 which a passenger told me runs every 20 minutes. Of the supermarkets I have been to so far in JB that Jusco has been by far the best. I have tried a couple Tesco’s and a Carfour and one other Jusco (a complete disaster area, the store was a complete mess, the signs said things were 50% off then when you took them to the counter they said they were not – 3 different items from 2 different locations).
Inside of a Johor Bahru 123 line bus, by John Hunter.
The Permas Jaya Jusco store itself is very clean and orderly. The prices seem the best to me. The vegetables were great this time (the first time I really checked). A great selection and very fresh looking. And the prices were great. I picked up baby asparagus, peppers, potatoes, Japanese and “regular” cucumbers. I am not a cook. My cooking tops out at microwaving the asparagus for a few seconds, reheating some Indian food or putting peanut butter on a roll.
Unfortunately the Jusco is a bit out of the way for me. I want to get familiar with the bus transportation though so I will be taking some trips. I can’t find anything good online that explains the bus routes. If anyone knows of a good source of information please let me know.
I went to the Village Briyani Cafe today and had chicken briyani. It was great.
Related: Straits View Condos, Permas Jaya – Bakery, Downtown Johor Bahru – The Treasure Store: English Language Used Books and Library Rental