Causeway VTL with Malaysia to begin on Monday

Up to 1,440 people on designated buses can cross land border each way every day

From Monday, up to 1,440 Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders in Malaysia will be able to cross the Causeway into Singapore each day using designated bus services, without the need for quarantine.

Similarly, up to 1,440 Malaysian citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders in Singapore will be able to go back home, as part of the initial phase of a much-anticipated land vaccinated travel lane (VTL) between the two countries.

The Singapore Prime Minister's Office said yesterday that depending on the public health situation in both countries, the land VTL will be expanded progressively to include general travellers.

Tickets for the designated land VTL buses in the first phase go on sale at 8am today.

Those travelling via the land VTL must take a professionally administered antigen rapid test (ART) or polymerase chain reaction test within two days of departure.

The test must be done at an accredited laboratory or testing centre. Those travelling to Malaysia will also need to take an additional supervised on-arrival ART after clearing immigration in Johor Baru.

For now, those travelling via the land VTL have to be citizens, permanent residents or long-term pass holders - including those with work passes and student passes - of the country they are entering.

This arrangement is meant to give priority to workers in either country who have not been able to visit their families since the land border was shut in March last year.

More than 100,000 Malaysians continue to live and work in Singapore despite travel restrictions.

The authorities are also working towards restoring quarantine-free travel through Tuas Second Link.

"Malaysia is Singapore's closest neighbour and the two countries share deep and warm relations," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a statement.

"The launch of the VTL (Land) is a big step towards reconnecting our people and economies, and will further enhance our bilateral relationship."

Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said the daily quota of travellers allowed to cross the border under the land VTL will be reviewed on a weekly basis.

Both sides are also exploring the possibility of adding train journeys to the land VTL, Mr Gan added.

But travelling in one's own vehicle will have to wait. It will also take time for traffic on the Causeway to return to pre-pandemic levels, said Mr Gan.

Before Covid-19 restrictions were imposed, close to 300,000 people crossed the Causeway daily.

For a start, there will be 64 daily VTL bus trips between Malaysia and Singapore, 32 in each direction, with a maximum of 45 seated passengers per trip.

Singapore bus company Transtar Travel will operate 16 daily trips from Larkin Sentral Bus Terminal in Johor Baru to Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange from 9.30am to 7.30pm, and another 16 trips in the other direction from 8am to 6pm. The buses will run at intervals of 40 minutes.

Similarly, Malaysia bus company Handal Indah, also known as Causeway Link, will operate 32 daily VTL trips between Larkin Sentral and Queen Street Terminal here.

The first bus from Singapore to Malaysia will leave at 9am and the last bus will leave at 8.15pm. From Malaysia to Singapore, the first bus will be at 7.30am and the last bus will be at 6.45pm.

All land VTL travellers must use the designated bus services.

Those who arrive at the border via other means, such as private transport or by walking across the Causeway, will need to serve stay-home notices even if they have been approved to travel via the land VTL.

The opening of the Causeway for quarantine-free travel will coincide with the start of the air VTL between Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

More than 4,000 travellers have already been approved to enter Singapore via that route.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2021, with the headline 'Causeway VTL with Malaysia to begin on Monday'. Subscribe