Transtar Travel VTL Bus from Singapore Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange (WTBI) to Johor Bahru Larkin Sentral Experience

Transtar Travel VTL Bus from Singapore Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange (WTBI) to Malaysia Johor Bahru Larkin Sentral

Transtar Travel VTL Bus is a VTL-Land bus service plying between Singapore Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange (WTBI) and Johor Bahru Larkin Sentral for VTL-Land Travellers only.

I managed to snag a Transtar Travel VTL Bus ticket on the first day of quota increase on 20 December 2021 along with the new rule of Singapore citizens being allowed to enter Malaysia with the land VTL. I’ve never been so excited to visit JB, even though this short overnight trip will have no train rides involved.

Yes, I interrupt the Revenge Travel Semenanjung posts because I did go for a second VTL trip already, this time by bus. Since it was a short trip to JB, I decided that I should get this information out of the way first before continuing with the rest of Semenanjung which may take another month or more for me to complete. Since I’m currently in JB on both series, I’ll just combine both experiences as a single destination period.

Tickets for the Transtar Travel VTL Bus were not easy to get, I can assure you of this. I bought my Transtar Travel VTL Bus ticket while on board KTM Komuter Klang Valley Sector 2139dn* from KL Sentral to Pelabuhan Klang at 2.59pm on the second last day of my Revenge Travel Semenanjung trip after queuing on my browser since morning. I was absolutely elated as it totally diminished the imminent prospect of leaving Peninsular Malaysia again till further notice, now that I have a ticket to go to JB again.

*Sorry, long long way to go for me to write the KTM Komuter Klang Valley Sector 2139dn post.

1-Night JB VTL Trip from Singapore Itinerary

Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange (WTBI)

Transtar Travel VTL Bus operates out of Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange (WTBI) in Singapore. Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange (WTBI) is directly connected with NS9 TE2 Woodlands MRT Station.

I arrived at 9.00am, 40 minutes before my Transtar Travel VTL Bus departure time of 9.40am.

Signs are posted along the path to the Transtar Travel VTL Bus check-in area at Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange (WTBI).

Once down the stairs, turn left.

The Transtar Travel VTL Bus check-in area is at the far end of Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange (WTBI). And no, don’t queue at 950.

Transtar Travel VTL Bus Check-In

Check-in was confusing.

With the counter facing me, I headed straight to the seemingly short queue counter to check myself in. However, I was greeted with stares from everyone.

After looking at my Transtar Travel VTL Bus ticket, I was pointed away from the counter in 2 directions by 2 different staff. When I asked where should I go, the reply was just to stand around and wait for the timing, whatever that means.

I heeded the first staff’s direction and joined the crowd at the far end of the terminal, where a pseudo queue had formed.

The Transtar Travel VTL Bus before mine (9.20am) arrived at 9.05am.

After the 9.20am Transtar Travel VTL Bus passengers had cleared the queue line, the A4-sized sign changed to 9.40am. While the queue line was previously used for boarding buses, part of it is now used as the queue for the check-in counter in reverse direction.

Pre-departure checks are conducted in the queue line. A sign states the various documents Transtar Travel will be checking for.

Once document checks are done, there’s a QR code to scan along the queue to make a booking and payment of RM60 for the VTL On-Arrival Testing Registration which will be done at Johor Bahru Larkin Sentral. While the link for booking the on-arrival ART/RTK test at Larkin Sentral is publicly accessible, DO NOT do it before check-in as you require your bus information and seat number to be filled in, which will only be informed to you at check-in. The registration is also only valid for the day itself.

While passengers still try to socially distance themselves 1 meter apart from each other in the queue, roving Transtar Travel staff outside the queue line inform passengers to close up the gaps like a Tekong sergeant so as to fit all 45 passengers within the queue line area.

Not cool. COVID-19 is not over.

Once done with the document checks, the Transtar Travel staff checking issues a sticker with the bus number.

The seat number will be issued at the check-in counter. Staff will also ask you if you have any checked baggage. Inform them at that moment.

After checking-in at the check-in counter, make a u-turn to join the queue towards the bus.

In this queue, scan the QR code to make a booking and payment of RM60 for the VTL On-Arrival Testing Registration which will be done at Johor Bahru Larkin Sentral. While the link for booking the on-arrival ART/RTK test at Larkin Sentral is publicly accessible, DO NOT do it before check-in as you require your bus information and seat number to be filled in, which will only be informed to you at check-in. The registration is also only valid for the day itself.

Transtar Travel VTL Bus Boarding at Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange (WTBI)

My 9.40am bus operated by PC6666J arrived at 9.29am to pick up passengers from Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange (WTBI). PC6666J will operate my 9.40am Transtar Travel VTL Bus, formerly operating for Transtar TS1 between Changi Airport and JB Sentral, and still bearing the TS1 service number and Jetstar Asia wraparound advertisement.

As I have no checked bags, I headed Straight to Gate. Oh sorry, this isn’t Jetstar Asia.

As I have no bags to put into the baggage compartment below the bus, I could board the Transtar Travel VTL Bus immediately.

Passengers with big luggage proceed to the baggage compartment first, similar to boarding an express bus.

The interior of the Transtar Travel VTL Bus features coach-like seats in a 2+2 configuration. All passengers have an assigned seat number.

The good legroom on board the Transtar Travel VTL Bus.

A QR code for the SG Arrival Card with electronic Health Declaration (“SG Arrival Card”) is provided behind each seat for travellers entering Singapore who have not filled it up yet.

It was a rainy and cold morning with the air-conditioning on full blast, so the condensation on the windows did not offer a good picture.

The view of the Transtar Travel VTL Bus from my seat.

An ICA video for arrival via the VTL-Land into Singapore was played on loop throughout the ride. Ignore this if going to Malaysia.

After a headcount of all passengers, my Transtar Travel VTL Bus departed from Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange at 9.40am sharp.

Woodlands Checkpoint

The Transtar Travel VTL Bus journey to Woodlands Checkpoint followed the same route as SMRT Bus Service 950, but of course without stopping at any bus stops.

Exit from Singapore at Woodlands Checkpoint was fuss-free and straightforward like the good old days before corona. Bags may also be left on board the bus at Woodlands Checkpoint during Singapore immigration, just like an express bus.

A headcount is conducted on re-boarding the Transtar Travel VTL Bus at Woodlands Checkpoint after Singapore immigration.

A cold and wet welcome back to Malaysia.

A welcome home sign greets travellers entering Malaysia after almost 2 years.

Bangunan Sultan Iskandar (BSI)

Entering Bangunan Sultan Iskandar (BSI) just like the good old days.

Bring along all belongings when alighting at Bangunan Sultan Iskandar (BSI) for Malaysia immigration and customs clearance.

At the VTL drop-off point, scan the MySejahtera to check-in.

Head up the escalator to immigration.

Document checks were carried out by Malaysia immigration. The officer will check for:

I asked my attending officer about the travel insurance, which I was not checked for since the start of this VTL Bus process, and he said he wasn’t sure about it either.

But even if not needed, remember to buy your COVID-19 travel insurance anyway. It’s cheap as compared to the COVID-19 bill you will get if you contract it while travelling.

To start 2022 with a bang, I was given a special immigration stamp to grant me entry from 2 October 2022. How I wish that would actually grant me entry into Malaysia for 11 months.

Remember to check your passport stamp before leaving the counter. I’ve always checked it, and I finally experienced the error for myself on this first VTL-Land trip.

After a physical customs check without the xray machine, follow the VTL path to almost-freedom.

The non-VTL path leads out to JB Sentral where arriving passengers will serve a quarantine.

Follow the sign to the bus platform.

The escalator was out of order, and no elevators are provided for this bus platform, so passengers with big luggage will have to lug or slide it down.

There was another headcount before re-boarding the bus onwards to Larkin Sentral for the final leg of the journey.

Larkin Sentral

Hello Larkin Sentral, I missed this sight of express buses so much.

My 9.40am Transtar Travel VTL Bus departure from Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange arrived at Larkin Sentral at 10.49am.

Larkin Sentral On-Arrival RTK Antigen Test

Scan the MySejahtera QR code to check-in to Larkin Sentral below the welcome back from YAB Dato’ Haji Hasni Mohammad, Menteri Besar Johor.

Join the queue for the VTL On-Arrival Antigen Testing (RTK-Ag) Registration. Prepare your passport and cash payment of RM60 if you had not already made an online payment for the VTL On-Arrival Antigen Testing (RTK-Ag).

The VTL On-Arrival Testing Registration QR codes are also pasted on the pillar.

A reminder of the additional post-arrival Days 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 Antigen Test (RTK-Ag) in Malaysia for all Malaysia VTL passengers is also pasted on the pillar. Note that no additional reminders are provided anywhere else after this sign. Remember to do it.

My credit card payment could not go through on the online VTL On-Arrival Testing Registration
form, but I re-submitted the VTL On-Arrival Testing Registration form with cash payment instead, and I could pay the RM60 in cash here at the VTL On-Arrival Antigen Testing (RTK-Ag) counter without any problems.

Remember to provide your contact details especially email accurately, as the results will be sent by email.

Next, it was time for the VTL On-Arrival Antigen Test (RTK-Ag). After checking my details on the sticker, the swab was done in less than 5 seconds, and I was told to wait till I get my results by email.

Larkin Sentral VTL On Arrival Testing Certificate

Barely 10 seconds of sitting down, the email was already in with my negative result at 10.49am. I waited just 2 minutes for my results. Unbelievable, but filled with joy that I am now able to enter Malaysia once again freely.

I arrived at Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange at 9.00am, departed on time at 9.40am, and am in Larkin Sentral freely at 10.49am. The journey from departing Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange to exiting Larkin Sentral took just 1 hour and 19 minutes. That’s absolutely amazing – faster than pre-COVID travels to JB on a weekend.

Signs around the waiting room say to show the negative result to the RELA (Malaysia Volunteers Corps Department) personnel outside, but they were nowhere to be seen.

Instead, property agents were pretending to check everyone’s negative test like an actual staff, and strike up a conversation with all of us about our JB trip, segueing to asking if we were interested in buying a new home.

Ah, just like the good old pre-corona days in JB Sentral. Indeed, I am now in JB.

Buy Days 2, 4, 6 and/or Days 3, 5 RTK Antigen Test from Caring Pharmacy Larkin Sentral

Before leaving Larkin Sentral, remember that you have to do your post-arrival Days 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 Antigen Test (RTK-Ag). There is a Caring Pharmacy conveniently located in Larkin Sentral with ample stock of Antigen Test Kits (RTK-Ag).

NOTE: You can buy your Antigen Test Kits (RTK-Ag) at any pharmacy in Malaysia – I’m just saying that there’s a Caring Pharmacy located in Larkin Sentral which sells Antigen Test Kits (RTK-Ag).

The post-arrival Days 2, 4 & 6 Antigen Test (RTK-Ag) are self-tests to be reported to MySejahtera. You must buy your own Antigen Test Kits (RTK-Ag) in Malaysia for these 3 tests.

The post-arrival Days 3 & 5 Antigen Test (RTK-Ag) are professional tests to be done at a clinic or hospital, however, you can also consider using CLEA for the post-arrival Days 3 & 5 Antigen Test (RTK-Ag) as I have done for Revenge Travel Semenanjung. If you use CLEA, you must buy your own Antigen Test Kits (RTK-Ag) in Malaysia for these 2 tests.

I can highly recommend CLEA to save both time and money as it can be done anywhere virtually, and the results come with a full-fledged KKM certificate. #notsponsored

Click here for my Malaysia VTL Days 3 & 5 CLEA Professional RTK Antigen Swab Test Virtual Screening Experience.

A variety of Antigen Rapid Test Kits (RTK-Ag) are available at Caring Pharmacy Larkin Sentral. The cheapest RTK-Ag available is the CAS-Envision SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Detection Kit for RM5.80 which can be used as either a saliva or nasal test.

I bought 2 Antigen Rapid Test Kits (RTK-Ag) for my Malaysia VTL Day 2 self-test and to have an additional negative pre-departure ART result for Singapore with the dated and timed certificate from CLEA, just in case my pre-departure test in Singapore for Malaysia and Larkin negative result won’t pass at check-in, so I’m super safe both documentation- and COVID-wise.

After all, it’s only RM15 for the Malaysia to Singapore VTL CLEA pre-travel COVID-19 Antigen Test (ART/RTK) virtual screening and certificate, so why not be extra safe.

Do also note that you are now allowed to bring to Singapore up to 20 COVID-19 self-test kits approved in the country of embarkation (ie. Malaysia). And Caring Pharmacy at the time of my visit had a RM10 discount with RM100 spent, including on Antigen Rapid Test Kits (RTK-Ag). Just saying.

Conclusion

It was a bit of a mess at Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange for the Transtar Travel VTL Bus queues, but once herded into the check-in pen, everything went smoothly according to schedule.

But I guess the inconveniences from purchasing the tickets to check-in are not important as the reward at the end.

WhatsApp video calls were on-going among every other passenger on board, tears were shed the moment the Transtar Travel VTL Bus crossed the border on the Causeway, and long-awaited reunions at Larkin Sentral with families and friends window-spotting the VTL bus from outside the bus terminal, emerging in real life from the aforementioned WhatsApp video calls, makes the VTL journey precious and worthwhile after an almost 2-year sudden travel hiatus across a bridge so near.

1-Night JB VTL Trip from Singapore Itinerary

7 comments

  1. I’m waiting for the approval for my emergency exit to malaysia.Because my mom in hospital in bad… doctor say to see for the last….

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