Malaysian car in Singapore

This is the next part of the series about our road trip.  Part 1 was the ferry ride to the mainland and then driving malaysian highways.  This post is about driving our Malaysian car in Singapore.

We left our guesthouse in Kuala Lumpur early so that we can get an early start and hope to get to our destination in Singapore for the kids to get a nap.  The GPS said 4 hours, but that assumes you can go through the border crossing at full speed.

The highway from KL to Johor Bahru was the same as the highway from Penang to KL.  I was dodging lorries going 90 kph and the sedans with W and J plates going 130 (see previous post for the details).  I am over-selling the danger, though, because it wasn’t exactly death defying driving, like we experienced in other Southeast Asian countries.  We lived 4 years in a place where if you were going faster than 45 kph you were taking your own life in your hands.

At 11:30 am we were on the outskirts of Johor, and suddenly the GPS unit started going  crazy.  “Recalculating, recalculating…”  The section of highway must be so new that Garmin  hadn’t added it to their map.  So we decide to try to get off the highway and look for some lunch and top off the petrol (gasoline) before we cross over.

From that point on, there were two exits, which we didn’t take because they looked like they led to the middle of nowhere, and suddenly we were at the Causeway crossing and no way to turn around.  At least we still had our bag full of snacks to keep the kids from getting cranky.

We crossed on a Sunday, which was good and bad.  The bad came first.  It seems that there is a crowd that crosses on the weekend.  Fortunately there were many lanes for the many cars and we did not wait long to get our passport stamped out of Malaysia.

The bridge across was jam packed and moving at a top speed of 5 kph.  We didn’t get to the Singapore entry booth for another hour and change.

After getting stamped into Singapore, we had to deal with the car.

VEP – Vehicle Entry Permit

Non-Singapore cars have to pay this Vehicle Entry Permit fee.  This is a S$20 per day fee for every week day that you have your foreign car in Singapore.  We came in on a Sunday so it was waived.  Also, and this is something I discovered later, every Malaysian car in Singapore gets 10 free days a year.  So essentially, you don’t need to pay for two weeks.

They make it easy to pay for this through the AutoPass system.  This card can be used to pay for the VEP as well as ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) system.  Every car needs to have one of these cards.  And you can buy one at the office right next to the customs lane.

But this was my first time in the country, so I had no card.  And since I hadn’t been in Singapore yet, I didn’t have Singapore dollars.  I barely had any Ringgit because I was leaving the country and didn’t want to have a stack of foreign currency that would do me no good.

After explaining all this to the lady at the desk where they sell AutoPass cards, she made a call to another office, and told me a price in Ringgit, which was just what I had in my wallet (as in, exactly.  I left that office with two Malaysian coins).

My AutoPass card, which is still in the glove box of the car, is marked with my license plate number.  It’s good only for my car.

ERP – Electronic road pricing

The ERP system is pretty neat.  They some how know when you drive on the toll ways, and rather than slow you down and charge you, they somehow just note it in some central computer.  As you accumulate tolls, you get charged on your AutoPass card.

A week later, leaving

You can top up the AutoPass card at any convenience store.  That way you can pay for parking with it, if you need to.

A week later, we headed back to Malaysia, and it was much easier to just use the AutoPass card.  I owed S$20 for the roads I drove on.  I also found out that I have 5 more VEP free days for my Malaysian car in Singapore in 2012.