How to read a bus ticket

This short article covers on how to read the modern bus ticket issued on all public buses.


In Singapore, a bus ticket is issued after fare payment is made by cash. This is a small slip of paper printed with details such as place of boarding and the amount of fare tendered. As proof of payment, cash-paying passengers are required to produce the ticket during fare inspection, and not having a ticket / holding on to an expired ticket can result in a $20 fine.

Currently, there are two types of bus tickets being issued. The first is the older ink tickets, which are printed by the old fare validators. These tickets are printed on normal paper and then printed with ink. The second is the newer ‘thermal tickets’, printed on thermal paper by the newer and smaller orange thermal printers (hence identified by their glossy paper appearance). Heat is to create the text on the paper; however these tickets fade after time. The information presented on both kinds of tickets are the same.

How to read

Modern tickets have nine sets of information displayed on them. Here’s a picture for you to follow:

^ Standard ticket issued by SMRT Buses. SBS Transit buses use the same format.

① – Bus registration number

This shows the registration plate number of the bus which the ticket is issued. In this case, 1212 refers to TIB1212G, a Mercedes-Benz O405G.

② – Date

This shows the date of ticket issue. 02DE11 refers to 2nd December 2011. All months are identified by their first two letters, with the exception of May (MY) and July (JY).

③ – Bus Service

The bus service on which the ticket is issued. In this case, it is Service 190. Non-basic services (i.e. Fast-Forward, Chinatown Direct, Night Riders / Nite Owls) may use different numbering schemes.

④ – Direction & Fare type

The first number indicates direction of travel. 1 refers to direction 1, and 2 refers to direction 2. Loop services only print 1. Exceptions do exist.

The second letter A indicates air-conditioned bus. N will indicate a non-air-conditioned bus.

⑤ – Ticket serial number

These four-digits (3984) vary across tickets, and buses print them in numeric order.

⑥ – Time of boarding

Time is displayed in the 24-hour format. In this case, 19:16 means 7:16pm.

⑦ – Fare category

A‘ refers to adult fare. ‘C’ would refer to Child fare, and ‘S’ would refer to Senior Citizen fare. A ‘P’ at the front stands for Peak hour.

⑧ – Fare tendered

Amount of fare paid in cents, and does not include any excess fare tendered (e.g. paying with a $5 note on a basic service will only get you the maximum $2.20 ticket). 130c would be $1.30.

⑨ – Place of boarding

This number corresponds to the bus stop (displayed as number of kilometers into the route) at which the commuter boarded. If we were to check for the bus stop at 0.0km in Direction 1 of service 190, it would correspond to Choa Chu Kang Bus Interchange.


Older Bus Tickets

^ Different generations of bus tickets in the not-too-distant past

① – Bus registration number

Still the same four digits. Buses with less than four-digit registration plates will print zeros at the front.

② – Date

Bus tickets in the past did not print out the year of issue

③ – Bus Service

Basic-Plus bus services in the past often printed letter prefixes and suffixes where necessary, such as the 2nd-Gen Fast-Forward bus ticket. These were replaced with more obscure service codes with the introduction of the thermal ticket printer.

④ – Direction & Fare type

As explained above.

⑤ – Ticket serial number

As explained above.

⑥ – Time of boarding

During the farecard era (1st-Gen), the time printed was not the time of bus boarding. The commuter had to make a valid bus transfer before the printed time to enjoy a transfer rebate.

⑦ – Fare category

As explained above. Older tickets may have a ‘T’ at the front, indicating Transfer.

⑧ – Fare tendered

Amount of fare paid in cents. The 1st-Gen bus ticket will receive special mention below.

⑨ – Place of boarding

Present on the 3rd-Gen ticket, this was not printed during the 1st and 2nd-Gen tickets.

Special Mention: 1st-Gen ⑧ Fare tendered

  • The first 35c refers to Fare Selected for the journey (by pressing the Bus validator), in cents
  • The next 35c refers to Actual Fare deducted from Farecard (e.g., Fare selected minus transfer rebate, if applicable), in cents
  • The last 65c refers to the Remaining Value left in the Farecard, in cents
  • Additional reminder to top up Farecard if Remaining Value is low


Bus Ticket Gallery:

^ Basic-Plus Bus Tickets

① – Fast Forward 10e

② – Chinatown Direct CT18

③ – Stadium Direct SS2

④ – Premium 538

⑤ – Nite Owl 4N

⑥ – NightRider NR7


^ Complimentary & Inspector Tickets

① – Complimentary Ride ticket

Usually issued when a bus breaks down to allow commuters to easily continue their journey. Entitles one to a complimentary ride onboard any bus service (operated by the same operator) exactly one month after the date of issue.

  • SN0035 refers to the serial number, printed in numerical order
  • 10 is Service 10
  • 02AUG – Date of Issue
② – Inspector ticket

Not intended for public distribution. Drivers issue inspector tickets to ticket inspectors who would keep the ticket as a record of the buses they have inspected.

  • 240213 – Date of Issue
  • 6.3 – Ticket issued at 6.3km mark of bus route
  • 6842: 2288-2291 – On this trip, issued tickets will bear serial numbers between 2288 and 2291.
  • 1925  409  1 – Time of issue (24hr format), Bus Service, Service Direction
  • 733512  2739 – Driver Employee Number, Bus registration number


^ Coloured tickets used in the past

① – Chinatown Direct ticket

Yellow tickets were used on Chinatown Direct buses for a period of time before they were reverted back to the normal white tickets.

② – SBS Transit cross-border ticket

Red tickets were used alongside Blue tickets on buses deployed to cross-border Service 170 to aid in identification when re-boarding the bus at the checkpoint after clearing customs. Service 160 also used red tickets. Bus was deployed to Chinatown Direct CT28 when ticket was printed.

③ – SMRT cross-border ticket

Blue tickets were used both by SBS Transit and SMRT, and in SMRT’s case, for cross-border Service 950. Since TIB1000B is a Mercedes-Benz O405G that was never registered as a cross-border bus, one can deduce that the blue ticket roll was accidentally installed on the wrong bus.



Details printed on the wrong side of the paper. The ticket roll was improperly installed inside the validator.

Here’s a related infographic from Joey Foo:

Courtesty of Joey Foo

An infographic produced by Joey Foo. Click on the image for a larger-sized version.


That’s all for now. Do check out our other bus articles by clicking here.

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