Singapore-Malaysia land VTL to open on Nov 29, up to 2,880 travellers each day

People boarding a bus as part of a VTL simulation exercise at Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange on Nov 23, 2021. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - From next Monday (Nov 29), 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 also 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.

Tickets for the designated land VTL buses go on sale at 8am on Thursday (Nov 25).

Those travelling via the land VTL must test negative using a professionally administered antigen rapid test (ART) or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) 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 they clear immigration.

The ride from Singapore will cost $15 for adults and $8 for children, while buses from Malaysia will cost RM20 for adults and RM10 for children (S$6.50 and S$3.30 respectively).

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

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.

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

The authorities are also working towards restoring quarantine-free travel between Singapore and Malaysia through the 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."

Those travelling via the land VTL have to be citizens, permanent residents or long-term pass holders of the country that they are entering. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRADE & INDUSTRY

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.

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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 a seven-day stay-home notice even if they have been approved to travel via the land VTL.

"We are starting the VTL (Land) in a safe and calibrated manner, so that we can progress smoothly," said Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong in a statement on Wednesday.

"We seek the understanding of workers who may not be able to purchase a bus ticket to travel home immediately due to limited capacity in the initial phase of the launch. We will continue to work with Malaysia to expand the VTL (Land) arrangement to more travellers in the coming weeks."

The opening of the Causeway for quarantine-free travel has been in the works for weeks, with the authorities from both countries conducting a dry run on Tuesday to iron out the details.

It will coincide with the start of the air VTL between Changi Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport. More than 4,000 travellers from Malaysia have already been approved to enter Singapore via that route.

Before the pandemic, about 415,000 travellers travelled across Woodlands Causeway and Tuas Second Link daily but this had dried up when the border was shut in March last year due to the pandemic.

However, despite the travel restrictions, more than 100,000 Malaysians continue to live and work in Singapore and there have been schemes set up allowing workers to travel between both countries with a stay-home notice, and for emergency visits in case of deaths or critical illness.

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