A variety of interstate coach express companies serve the lucrative Singapore-Kuala Lumpur. However, a majority of them priced their tickets at a premium pricing. This is also because many of these companies deployed luxurious coaches on this sector, thus the premium prices. Travellers who are on a budget may instead choose to take a bus from Larkin in Johor Bahru, where tickets are priced at up to 80% cheaper than from Singapore. There are no executive or luxury coach services between Johor Bahru (JB) and Kuala Lumpur (KL).
For example, a 27-seater Super VIP-class coach from Singapore will cost anywhere between S$26 to S$35, depending on season and demand. A similarly-configured coach from JB will cost much, much lesser than that. Believe it or not, at only S$10! And I’m not even talking about less-reputable companies.
I chose to book with Mara Liner Express, a government-owned company which operates to many cities and towns in Peninsular Malaysia. Instead of the hassle of going to Larkin Terminal to personally book the seats, I opted to go online where I can save up to 30% off the listed prices. Retail price for an adult ticket on the JB-KL sector costs around RM25 on Mara Liner. In comparison, a seat will cost on average RM30 on other coach companies. Book was hassle-free as well. I can even choose the seats and to top it all, my ticket costs only RM23.30 after the online discount. That roughly translates to SGD10! In fact, some trips costs only RM16.80, which roughly translates to around S$7! Payment was made by Visa and a voucher printout was done. All that takes less than 10 minutes to complete.
On the day of departure, I reached Larkin Terminal half an hour earlier than the scheduled departure. Checking-in was a breeze as well, although the counter attendant was somewhat ‘in his own world’. Nevertheless, I was thrilled when I found out that my trip will be on a Scania K114IB 360 with the uber-cool MTrans ‘Irizar PB’ bodywork. The bus departed Larkin Terminal at around 10.40 am, some 10 minutes behind schedule.
Touching on the coach, a total of 26 passengers can be seated in a ‘2+1′ Super VIP seating configuration with ample legroom. The leather seats may be reclined and it is very comfortable. The interior is very clean with the aircon blowing coolly across the cabin. Unfortunately, movies were not shown on the TV. The journey was made even more comfortable with the experienced driver who drove meticulously. Although the bus departed later from Larkin, it arrived on time at Hentian Puduraya in KL. In all, the journey took about 5 hours, including a 30-minute break at a rest-stop in Melaka.
I would highly recommend the Mara Liner Express to anyone. Not only you get comfy seats at amazingly low prices, safety was undoubtedly the other plus point with this company. There are 6 trips daily between Larkin and Puduraya, but some trips may extend the journey to Putra Terminal. Buses leave Larkin at 8 am, 10.30 am, 1.30 pm, 3.30 pm, 5.30 pm and 11 pm. All trips will be served on the 26-seater Super VIP coach although Mara Liner classified these as Economy class coaches.
Booking is made easy at http://www.maraliner.com.my. I will give Mara Liner a 4-star rating due to its competitive pricing, efficient services and hassle-free booking.
This entry was originally published on May 6, 2008.