Highway Buses vs MRT: Changi Airport to Jurong East by Bus 36, 502 & 99

Highway Buses from Changi Airport to Jurong East

It’s another weekend without being able to travel overseas, so here’s another bus vs MRT challenge! This time, I took it up a notch to traverse a longer distance rather than just entry and exit points on highways, and I decided to challenge the bus from Changi Airport to Jurong East. Will this bus journey be faster than the MRT?

Go-Ahead Bus Service 36 from Changi Airport to Opp The Ritz-Carlton

To start my journey from Changi Airport, I used Go-Ahead Bus Service 36 again since it hits the ECP immediately.

Waiting for the bus captain to take Go-Ahead Bus Service 36 on its next journey.

I started my journey from Changi Airport at 1.38pm.

Heading past East Coast Park.

Heading past the Thomson-East Coast Line construction along Marine Parade.

I had thought about changing to Go-Ahead Bus Service 12e here to change on to the Downtown Line to Downtown from Bugis, but considered that the time taken to change and wait for the next bus would have been the same or more than when 36 hits the ECP later on after Marine Parade again, so I simply stuck to 36.

Crossing Benjamin Sheares Bridge with the skyline of Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay.

At 2.26pm, I alighted at Bus Stop 02171 Opp The Ritz-Carlton for my next connection.

Journey time taken from Changi Airport to Opp The Ritz-Carlton: 48 minutes

Hmm, not looking too good for this challenge.

SBS Transit Express Bus Service 502 from Opp The Ritz-Carlton to The Synergy

Bus Stop 02171 Opp The Ritz-Carlton is an unassuming transfer point in the Marina Centre area, with buses intersecting here (and neighbouring bus stops) before heading towards other parts of Singapore.

The next bus I’ll get is SBS Transit Express Bus Service 502 which has a long express sector from Shenton Way to Jurong East.

A little bit of twisting around the new Downtown area before hitting the expressway again.

About 8 minutes of waiting later, my SBS Transit Express Bus Service 502 arrived at 2.34pm to continue my journey to the west.

Hitting the long express sector after the last stop at Opp AXA Tower.

Heading express along Keppel Road before taking the AYE.

Taking a leisurely cruise along the AYE.

Exiting at Clementi Avenue 6.

Heading express along Commonwealth Avenue West and Boon Lay Way.

At 3.02pm, I alighted at Bus Stop 28041 The Synergy for my next connection.

Journey time taken from Opp The Ritz-Carlton to The Synergy: 28 minutes
Journey time taken from Changi Airport to The Synergy: 84 minutes

This challenge is not looking good.

SBS Transit Bus Service 99 from The Synergy to J Gateway

Surprisingly, many buses from The Synergy do not continue straight towards Jurong Town Hall area, but turn right to IMM on Toh Guan Road.

SBS Transit Bus Service 99 is the only bus service going straight from The Synergy to J Gateway for Jurong East MRT Station.

Thankfully, it was just a 3 minute wait here, with my SBS Transit Bus Service 99 pulling in at 3.05pm.

The short journey from The Synergy to J Gateway took just around 3 minutes, arriving at 3.08pm.

Journey time taken from The Synergy to J Gateway: 3 minutes
Journey time taken from Changi Airport to J Gateway: 90 minutes

Not looking good at all.

There’s still a 400 meter walk to Jurong East MRT Station to complete this challenge.

The 400 meter walk to Jurong East MRT Station takes about 4 minutes.

At 3.12pm, I arrived at the concourse of Jurong East MRT Station.

Journey time taken from Changi Airport to Jurong East MRT Station: 94 minutes

Now let’s see how this compares with an MRT journey along the East West Line.

Google Maps say that the journey from Changi Airport to Jurong East MRT Station would have taken 69 minutes instead, which renders this Bus vs. MRT challenge a failure.

Furthermore, the MRT fare would have cost S$2.09, whereas my bus-bus-bus interchange journey cost me S$2.76, thanks to the additional 60 cents payable for Express bus journeys.

Proposed Changi Airport Express Bus – Go-Ahead Bus Service 36e

I’ve mentioned this before in the ECP vs MRT Changi Airport to Bugis and Chinatown challenge. If a new Go-Ahead Bus Service 36e could be introduced to skip the entire Marine Parade sector, this airport express bus service will offer a quick and convenient way into the city for tourists using the entire length of the ECP non-stop.

The transfer at Opp The Ritz-Carlton and other neighbouring bus stops around the Marina Centre area also offers quick connections around the city, and can even connect further and faster to the west with Express 502, offering a trans-ECP-AYE travel from Changi Airport all the way to Jurong East and Boon Lay with just 1 transfer.

It’s not all bad

My journey from Changi Airport to Jurong East was hub to hub. People who are actually going to Jurong East for a purpose rather than just trying to see how long the bus journey would take would most likely be going to a residential area, mall, or work.

Express 502 does this in the Jurong East – Boon Lay local portion of its route, directly serving residential areas through the northern part of Jurong East, Boon Lay, and Jurong West, and also IMM Building where most people still go to Jurong East to shop rather than supposedly up and coming places like Big Box, connecting key demand nodes directly to the city via the express portion of the route. This saves transfer time between the bus and train.

For example, if coming from the MRT, there’s no need to walk over from Jurong East MRT Station to Relocated Jurong East Bus Interchange to change to Tower Transit Feeder Bus Service 333 to get to IMM Building if that’s your final destination. Express 502 would have gotten you there directly from the city with no transfers required.

On top of that, buses get you a cushy forward-facing seat for the long journey, rather than a longitudinal hard plastic seat on the MRT for the long haul, risking death stares from senior citizens threatening you to give up your seat to them, and potentially standing throughout your entire train journey from Changi Airport to Jurong East.

A trade off for time and a small cost markup for a comfortable seat on a long journey might still be appealing to commuters who would prefer an undisturbed ride with a forward-facing seat, and this expressway bus route from Changi Airport to Jurong East would still work despite not being as fast as the MRT, factoring in these tangible benefits.

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