Tickets sold in 20 minutes from one supplier for the Singapore-Malaysia VTL Ground Bus Service, Singapore News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – Travelers rushed to secure bus tickets for a non-quarantine overland trip to Johor Baru on Thursday, November 25, the first day of tickets go on sale.

Tickets were sold out in about 20 minutes for one of the two bus service operators.

Checks on the two service providers’ websites for the next vaccinated land transport (VTL) route between Singapore and Malaysia at 8 a.m. when tickets went on sale showed waiting rooms virtual machines were created to cope with high traffic volumes.

Both websites did not appear to be able to meet demand as some users reported issues accessing the reservation system.

On the website of the Singaporean bus company Transtar Travel, a notice stated that users were placed in a virtual waiting room due to the “high volume of users”. Passengers were given 15 minutes to book their tickets and could select up to five slots per trip. By 8:23 am, all tickets for the next 30 days were sold out.

The website was later updated to indicate that users will be allowed to access the bus ticket portal when slots become available.

Meanwhile, the line in the virtual waiting room on the website of Malaysian bus company Handal Indah extended to more than 10,000 people. Users were told they have 10 minutes to enter the site, along with the number of users queued in front of them.

Some users were logged out before entering the website or making a payment.

At 10:27 a.m., Malaysia’s website was unreachable.

On Facebook, Handal Indah, also known as Causeway Link, said that only tickets for next Monday through December 5 will be available at this time. He did not indicate when the next batch of tickets can be booked.

However, authorities said on Wednesday that tickets would go on sale 30 days in advance and must be reserved three days before the departure date.

A notice on Handal Indah’s website, taken on November 25, 2021, showing a wait time of over an hour. Handal Indah is also known as Causeway Link. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

Beginning next Monday, Singapore and Malaysia will allow non-quarantine travel at the Woodlands ground checkpoint using designated buses.

Authorities said Wednesday that up to 2,880 people will be able to cross the roadway each day – up to 1,440 each way. The much-anticipated deal comes after nearly 20 months of border restrictions.

For now, people traveling via land VTL must be citizens, permanent residents, or long-term pass holders of the country they are entering. This includes work pass holders, student pass holders, and long term visit pass holders.

Singapore’s prime minister’s office said on Wednesday it was a matter of prioritizing workers from either country to visit their families. More than 100,000 Malaysians continue to work here despite the closure of the land border in March of last year.

Travel from Singapore will cost $ 15 for adults and $ 8 for children, while bus tickets from Malaysia will cost RM 20 (S $ 6.50) for adults and RM 10 for children.

There will be 64 daily VTL bus trips between Malaysia and Singapore, 32 each way, with a maximum of 45 seated passengers per trip.

Transtar Travel will operate 16 daily trips from Larkin Sentral Bus Station in Johor Baru to the Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange from 9:30 am to 7:30 pm, and another 16 trips in the other direction from 8 am to 6 pm.

Likewise, Handal Indah will make 32 daily VTL trips here between Larkin Sentral and the Queen Street Terminal.

Those traveling via the terrestrial VTL should test negative using a professionally administered rapid antigen test (ART) or a polymerase chain reaction test within two days of departure. The test should be performed in an accredited laboratory or testing center.

Those traveling to Malaysia will also need to take an additional supervised TAR on arrival after going through immigration.

The initial phase of the land VTL will require travelers to take designated bus services, but the two sides are exploring the possibility of train travel, Commerce and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Wednesday.

Mr Gan also said the reason why travel under the land VTL is only allowed on designated buses is because the buses are more manageable.

Depending on the health situation in the two countries, the authorities plan to gradually extend the land VTL to frequent travelers.

They are also working to restore quarantine-free travel between Singapore and Malaysia via the Tuas Second Link.

The Straits Times has contacted both bus reservation services for comment.

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