Transtar Travel is a long-time player in the Singapore-Malaysia bus transport market, often pioneering the new bus industry standards that you see today such as the Super VIP seats. On this journey, as I predicted that I wouldn’t have enough sleep from the previous night’s travel to KL because I was taking the train (and it turned out that I was so right), I chose my return bus based on seat comfort, and with just minimal differences in ticket prices on Easybook at the 6pm timing, I went to buy my Transtar First Class Solitaire ticket for S$22 to return to Singapore.
What happened next, was not something that I had expected.
Heading to the Transtar Travel office near Imbi, near Berjaya Times Square. Sure, I could have taken the Monorail to Imbi, but no way was I going to wait 20 minutes for a 2-car train, so I took the MRT to Bukit Bintang instead and walked from there.
The Transtar Travel office at 135, Jalan Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur.
The check-in counter at the Imbi Transtar Travel office. (There was someone waiting at the counter of course, I took the photo when the guy wasn’t around so that I wasn’t rude.)
After showing my Easybook confirmation email on my phone and ticking my name off the manifest, the staff in a formal blazer handed me my bus plate number and seat number (which I’ve already pre-selected on Easybook when purchasing my ticket) on this slip of paper for my reference.
After which, he said that due to a massive jam at Melaka, my 6pm bus was going to be delayed. Ah crap.
However, it was a comfortable wait as Transtar has a lounge at the back of their office for you to rest on sofas and get yourself a hot drink. Toilets are at the back of the lounge.
After about an hour of waiting in the lounge, the staff formally announced that the bus to Singapore was ready for boarding, and led everyone to the bus. Turns out, he was the steward for the journey.
Wait a minute, is this the Transtar First Class Solitaire Suites?
I’ve never been so happy to get delayed before. This was an immense upgrade for my seat.
So when chatting with the driver later on during the journey, I learnt that this was a last-minute pullover from Genting as the Transtar First Class Solitaire Suites does not ply on the KL route. Rather, he got a call to come down to KL to rescue us passengers as the original bus was still stuck in the jam at Melaka.
Not bad at all, Transtar. I could easily think of a few bus companies who would keep everyone waiting without any recovery options or announcements for that matter.
My Transtar First Class Solitaire Suites bus from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.
On this double-decker bus, two First Class Solitaire Suites are located on the lower deck and one Suite on the upper deck. Each First Class Solitaire Suite consists of two seats. The rest of the seats in the main cabin are regular First Class Solitaire seats.
The regular First Class Solitaire cocoon seats in a 1+1 configuration.
A private seat up front.
However, nothing got more private than my seat 13.
Behind the bulkhead was my Suite.
There is a slimmer seat by the emergency exit, but is not sold or assigned a number.
The interior of First Class Solitaire Suite No. 13 and 14.
My upgraded Suite seat at Seat 13. As there was no one in Seat 14, I won myself the lottery by having the Suite to myself.
On top of the usual Solitaire offerings, each Suite comes with its own bulkhead which features what you’d expect in your own car and more, with a CD and DVD player, stereo system and flat screen LED TV. However, the Suite system wasn’t switched on on this trip since it wasn’t meant to be a Solitaire Suites service, so I don’t have photos of the pop-out flat screen TV.
Remote controls for the Suite amenities can be found in the push-out drawer at the bottom.
The DVD player and screen controls on the bulkhead.
On the Solitaire seats, functions are controlled electronically for the recline and massage functions. A USB port for charging is also available.
On top of the USB port, a universal charging outlet is located beneath the seat.
While there isn’t a door to shut the Suite, it is private enough since this is at the rear of the bus and people won’t walking past the Suite.
Switching on the Android personal entertainment screen.
The little cubby allows me to rest my feet perfectly on it when the seat isn’t reclining.
On recline and folding the calf rest out fully, however, the seat encroaches the full legroom available and is unable to fully recline for the last couple of inches. Perhaps the Suite requires more legroom in the design since by having the Suite bulkhead, the footrest cannot be installed. This design also unfortunately does not allow you to fully lie your body flat on the seat like a regular Solitaire cocoon seat in the main cabin.
Truly first world problems.
The starting screen of the entertainment system with the Transtar Cross Border buses on display.
The welcome video of the Transtar First Class Solitaire Suites.
The entertainment system comes in 4 languages – Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, English and Japanese.
The main menu of the entertainment system.
Hmm, lots of genres available.
Ah, alas, the selections weren’t actually very good, though it might cater for the auntie and uncle crowd going to Genting.
Goodbye Bandar Malaysia and HSR. But with buses with private Suites like these, why would I get a more expensive HSR instead.
The tinted panel separating my Suite from the main cabin.
Heading on the Kuala Lumpur-Seremban Expressway, not stopping at TBS since this is a premium service.
A small bottle of water was distributed by the steward.
Approaching the Sungai Besi toll.
Entering the PLUS Highway.
Once on the highway, dinner was served. The non-vegetarian meal served was Tamago Fried Rice with Chicken Karaage, which is a rather prestigious name for Nasi Goreng Cina.
On top of the two described dishes on the label, the set came with stewed cauliflowers and a samosa. It wasn’t the best meal out there, but enough to fill my stomach. The meal was served with hot coffee or tea.
Anyway, I was just aiming for the seat when booking my ticket and not the included dinner.
Blankets were distributed after the meal.
The bus made a brief stop at Yong Peng Southbound Lay-By for a toilet break.
My Transtar First Class Solitaire Suites bus at Yong Peng Southbound Lay-By.
Back on the bus with a rear shot of the main cabin.
The bus made a stop at GP Sentral to drop off some passengers, and headed to the Petron to refuel.
The bus pulled in to a very empty Tanjung Kupang Sultan Abu Bakar CIQ Complex. Perfect.
One of the first to be back on board the bus.
Crossing the Second Link bridge to Singapore.
Approaching an empty Tuas Checkpoint. Perfect.
Because this 18-seater bus was just about three quarters full, the wait for everyone at immigration was rather quick.
Passing by the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and future Cantonment MRT Station.
Passing by the Helix Bridge.
The Singapore skyline as seen from the Transtar First Class Solitaire Suites bus.
Passing by DUO Singapore, a new integrated development in Bugis by M+S Pte Ltd, jointly owned by Khazanah Nasional Berhad and Temasek Holdings Private Limited as part of that Tanjong Pagar land swap agreement in 2010.
The bus arrived at the bus stop opposite Golden Mile Complex at about 12.45am, making this a journey of 5 hours and 45 minutes from KL to Singapore. That’s about half the time I took to travel by train from JB to KL.
Disembarking from the Transtar First Class Solitaire Suites bus, my most comfortable bus ride in Malaysia so far.
Overall, an excellent bus ride with spacious seats and an immense amount of pricacy available on board the Transtar First Class Solitaire Suites. The bus delay turned out to be the best deal ever with the upgrade in bus type. If only all Solitaire buses would be replaced with Suites so that I could use it again from KL, since the bus does not operate on the route.
Now I have to just keep hoping for northbound traffic jams in Melaka to hopefully be upgraded again.
Some possible booking methods for Malaysian domestic and international (to and from Singapore and Thailand) buses are:
- Online from 12Go Asia
- Online from Baolau
- Online from BusOnlineTicket
- Online from CatchThatBus
- Online from Easybook
- Klook (Get FREE S$5.00/RM15.00 voucher for your first purchase when you sign up here! *subject to exchange rate)
How do I book tickets online?
- Click here for a step-by-step guide for 12Go Asia.
- Click here for a step-by-step guide for Easybook.