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Review: Transtar Luxury Coach KL to Singapore

We Test the Transtar ‘First Class’ Coach Experience

spacious seating on the KL to SIngapore coach - my review

We’d seen the photos and were excited to travel in ‘first class’ luxury. How did our visa run on the Transtar Solitaire Coach turn out? Did it live up to our super high expectations?

Online Booking

I booked the tickets online with Transtar directly.  We were able to select our seats and meal preferences in advance and using my (UK) credit card was not an issue.  I’d had a few questions before booking and used their email enquiry form which they responded to quickly and politely.  I was able to show the receipt on my mobile instead of printing it out too.

Transtar Luxury Solitaire Coach Review

Pick Up

Coaches from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore pick up from various locations around the city. The closest one to us would have been the Puduraya terminal but as we’d decided on Transtar we had to make our way to their office on Jalan Imbi in Bukit Bintang.  We hopped on the free GO KL bus and arrived there in plenty of time. We were shown to an air conditioned room with a water machine, tea and coffee and a TV playing YouTube clips.  There were sofas and clean toilet facilities and all in all the waiting room was nice. We did not expect to have to wait for almost an hour though.

Thats right, the coach was late.  To be fair they did keep us updated and it did arrive near to the time they predicted. The reason they gave was traffic in another part of Kuala Lumpur.  Once it had arrived we were quickly shown on board and we were off.

Their office in Singapore is located in the Golden Mile Complex. There are many coach companies based there and we found it without an issue.  I don’t know if they have the same sort of waiting facilities as in Kuala Lumpur because we just got straight on for our return journey.

The Seats

The seats were lovely.  Firstly, they are absolutely enormous. There is only 1 seat on each side of the central aisle and they almost fully recline and have a separate foot rest. All the functions are controlled with buttons and each seat has several different massage functions too!  A fold out table, small pillow and a blanket were also provided.

Transtar Luxury seats

Transtar gets extra bonus points for providing a (working) electrical socket for each seat. The plug is a 3 pin (the same as the UK)  as is the standard in Singapore and one of the most common in Malaysia.

Transtar Review 1 seat on each side of the aisle

On Board Entertainment

There is a personal entertainment system for each seat that comes with a set of in-ear headphones and a Playstation like controller.  We found the films, TV and music functions to all work well but the none of the games functioned on either of our systems on both the initial and return journey. Henry was a little disappointed about this even though the games were very old (they did load but could not be accessed with the controller, as if the controller was not plugged in.)  The selection of films was surprisingly up to date.  We found out why when we crossed the border into Singapore and were told over the PA system that the films would no longer be shown in order to comply with Singapore law – i.e. the films were illegal copies.

Personal entertainment system on Transtar luxury coach review

It was good that the personal entertainment system was there because it would be pretty hard to amuse yourself for 6 hours with just the view. The view was mostly very dull indeed. You would not miss anything by doing this journey in the dark.

the view was uninspiring on the road from KL to Singapore

Not a great view…

 

Food and Drink

Hot drinks and massaging chairs on Transtar Coach

Each seat had a small bottle of water in place upon boarding and soon after we were underway a member of staff came to take orders for hot drinks.  Unfortunately they had no coffee without sugar so for my subsequent drinks I went with jasmine tea.

Transtar Coach meal KL to Singapore

KL > SG meal

Vegetarian Option on return journey Transtar Coach SG to KL

SG > KL meal

The food was pretty good on the outward journey.  I’d opted for a vegetarian meal we both got a sort of sweet and sour affair, Henry’s was chicken and mine tofu. The food on the return journey was not quite as tasty but still passable. We were also given a small snack (biscuits)  mid afternoon on both legs of the journey along with another hot drink.

 

Facilities

The one thing that is really missing on the Transtar ‘Solitaire’ coach? A toilet! You’d think with everything else on offer that an on board toilet would be a given, but no. It was not a problem for us as there are 2 scheduled stops. Firstly there is a toilet stop after a few hours on one of the motorways in Malaysia which was perfectly acceptable and then you obviously stop at the border too where there are plenty of toilets (tip: the ones on the SIngapore side are nicer).

Toilet stop on the way to Singapore Coach trip

The facilities at the motorway services

The air conditioning worked well on both coaches and in fact I actually got quite chilly on the way back, even wearing trousers and long sleeve top.  Consistent with our other experiences of travelling in Malaysia, they do like to keep passengers cool.

 

Border Crossing

Crossing the border between Malaysia and Singapore was pretty smooth on both occasions. You take all of your belongings with you, get stamped out of one country and into the next. You then follow the signs to find the coach again. It was not too busy and we has no problems at all.

Crossing the bridge into SIngapore

Safety

All the seats had lap belt which we were encouraged to use at all times. I felt that the driving on both legs was fine, nothing alarmed me anyway! The only thing that worried me was on the first trip the windscreen right in front of Henry (who was right at the front) had a large crack in it.  That would not pass an MOT test in the UK, thats for sure.

cracked windscreen on Transtar Coach safety concern

You can just about see the cracked window in this photo but not the extent of it, I would say some of the cracks were over a metre in length!

 

Costs

One thing to be aware of with this company and all companies plying this route is the difference in cost between the two journeys. I can’t explain why it is the case but tickets from Singapore to Malaysia are almost twice the price of the ones going in the other direction.  This applies to trains as well.The prices seem to have increased since January. These prices are per person.

KL > SG: We paid 36 SGD (£17), the current price (March 2014) is 46 SGD  (£21)

SG > KL: We paid 52 SGD (£24.60) the current price (March 2014) is 59 SGD (£28)

 We paid nothing to get to the pick up point in Bukit Bintang in KL and caught a bus from the Golden Mile Complex drop of point in Singapore to Chinatown where we were staying. The bus was very affordable. On the way back we got a taxi to the Golden Mile which, being a taxi in Singapore, was also very reasonable because he was more than happy to use his meter.As we were provided with food and drink we didn’t need to buy anything for either of the journeys.

Final Verdict

Overall, we would recommend the Transtar coach journey but I’m not sure we would do it again.  The cost was somewhat higher than with other coach companies and although the seats were great and it was nice to have a power socket and films to watch I’m not quite sure it justifies the high price tag.

You can see more of the coaches in the short video I made about our 2 days in Singapore.

Have you been on one of these luxury coaches? Was it worth it for you?

Transtar Luxury Coach Trip Review: January 2014

6 thoughts on “Review: Transtar Luxury Coach KL to Singapore”

  1. Farah Aida says:

    Our family of 5 (one three-year-old child, one ten-year-old child, one 75-year-old adult and 2 other female adults) booked two-way seats to One Utama Shopping Complex on Transtar on 13 November 2014. Our departure from Singapore was scheduled for 8 a.m. on 19 December and return to Singapore was 5 p.m. on 22 December.

    On 19 December, we boarded bus number AFT888 only to discover that one of our 5 seats was double-booked. Another passenger was also allocated the same seat. Luckily, there was another available seat and we were able to re-organise the seating arrangement. We were, however, unaware that this would be a beginning of a series of oversights that Transtar would make with regards to our transportation to Petaling Jaya.

    On arrival at Petaling Jaya (7 HOURS LATER!), the bus driver proceeded to drop us by a kerb near what looked to be a highway which also seemed to be under some kind of construction. We were not dropped off at a proper bus stand or the bus terminal where the Transtar office is located. With our luggages, two children and a 75-year-old mother, we had to make our way precariously towards the One Utama Shopping Complex. At that point, we had no idea where the actual Transtar office was and had to return on another day to find it.

    On the day of our departure, we arrived at the office at around 2 p.m. only to be told that it was too early to check in. Our departure time was 5 p.m. We left our luggages at the office and went off for lunch. Shortly after, at about 2.45 p.m. we received a call from the office staff informing us that a mistake from Singapore had been made. Seats have been OVER SUBSCRIBED and a van had been despatched to transfer us to Batu Cave where another bus would take us back to Singapore.

    This was totally unacceptable. We were not yet done with our lunch. We were told that the van would leave at 3.30 p.m. In the first place, we did not have to check in at the bus office till 4 p.m. We also did not stay near One Utama. What would have happened if we had arrived only at 4 p.m. to be told that the bus could not make good our confirmed seats??

    We were assured of the following by staff from the One Utama and Singapore offices after a number of terse telephone conversations:
    There was a bus counter/office at the Batu Caves site
    There would be plenty of seats on the bus at Batu Caves
    We would be able to get seats together on the bus (please bear in mind that this was a necessity for us given the family members we had on this trip)
    The bus at Batu Caves was a premium bus, single seats with entertainment screen and massage facilities

    This was what happened instead:
    There was a couple in the van also in a similar predicament. They were meant to leave at 3 p.m. from KL but instead had to go to Batu Caves too. Obviously Transtar oversubscribes passengers on a regular basis
    We arrived to a bus load of people also waiting to board the same bus. There was no such bus counter or office in sight
    The luggage compartment was full and the driver complained that our 2 trolley luggages were TOO MANY!!
    Our family was separated to sit at different parts of the bus although when we first purchased our tickets, we had carefully selected our seats

    The bus captain and driver told us loudly and angrily that we did not have to take the bus if we did not wish to and if we were unhappy, to take it up with the Singapore office. They were extremely rude and hostile towards us. It was as if they were doing us a HUGE favour by taking us on the bus. Maybe someone from Transtar should have informed them that we were paying customers.
    The seat I had was actually faulty, as it would not stay upright. PC66E is NOT, in my opinion, a premium bus. Other extra seat facility promised to us was totally non-existent.
    We had to ask for an emergency toilet stop as we were unaware that the bus would not stop until Yom Peng – almost 3.5 hours after departure!

    Our family has been unduly stressed and distressed by this experience. We have been made to feel as if we were at the mercy of the bus company which did not offer sufficiently satisfactory explanation for the change. Mr Alvin from Singapore Transtar was also unable to provide us with any assistance despite all the calls we made directly to Singapore. Our final call to him upon boarding PC66E also proved futile as he did not return the call.

    We are appalled by the extremely poor service received by this company. The staff were curt, downright rude in fact, unsympathetic and unyielding. Clearly this type of deceptive mode of operation is well-practiced by Transtar.

    When we visited the Singapore office on Tuesday morning, we were told that the “bosses” were not around and would only be available in the afternoon. We were offered refund for one person, one-way for the inconvenience caused. According to Mr Alvin, it was “impossible” for them to refund any more than this. In fact, he happily advised me to go to CASE to lodge an official complaint if I wished.

    I have yet to receive an official reply to my email.

  2. sychin says:

    AVOID LIONSTAR at ALL COST
    Dirty, smelly,cockroach laden bus with no air con. Curtains are dirty and torn.
    Bus starts more than half and hour late and arrives late. Driver and ticket seller behave like gangsters. They charge people differently. Bangla gets ripped off. They even try not to return the bangla their ticket money when they ordered them off the bus when the bangla question why different prices.Avoid this company at all cost. They are not cheap either . I got onboard becausevi am in a hurry yo get back to KL.damn! Worst bus in the whole of Malaysia. Truly Lionstar is Big Time Bad

  3. josh says:

    .
    My latest experience from this bus service, last week from SIN to PEN at Friday 10pm.
    -Departed 10pm
    -Cleared Malaysia custom at 130am
    -Tyre puncture after Air Hitam, JB stopped
    -stop at Seremban highway rest place at 8am next day
    -waiting for repair till 12noon still cannot fixed
    As it’s getting too late and the driver never inform everyone of anything, as well weather is getting hot and aircon bus is not cold. We decide to share taxi back to PEN
    Reach PEN at 7pm that day.
    From expectation of 8 hours travelling become 21 hours…
    NOTE: You all judge on how good this bus service are…..

    1. mini suitcase says:

      That sounds awful! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

      1. josh says:

        until now after closed to 1 month, I still don’t get my claimed back as they promised…. KNS

  4. Christian says:

    I’m posting this review in as many forums as I can so I can prevent others from our terrible experience.

    Avoid this company at all costs. Travelling from Kuala Lumpur (pick up from Berjaya Times Square – pro tip, wait by the main road, just under the Imbi MRT stop) to Singapore. They were half an hour late, if this was the worse thing about the service I could have lived with it. BUT they left my partner and another passenger on the Singapore border. They were told that other passengers had complained because immigration queues were awful (Saturday afternoon, go figure) and didn’t want to wait any more, so you guessed it, the bus left them behind. I can’t even begin to comprehend this.

    It gets worse, so I called the company, told them what happened and the lady I spoke to said she’ll call the bus driver back. I waited a few minutes and called them back again, same lady, but had appeared to have done nothing about it. I pressed and said I called literally 2 mins earlier and her response was the bus driver’s phone was off and then decided to hang up on me. I tried to call back but they wouldn’t pick up my calls.

    We will be demanding more than a refund and if there is a way to report this to the authorities, we will. At the very least, I want to warn potential customers to beware. I understand this could have been an isolated incident, and maybe 9 times out of 10, passengers are not left on the border (ha). But I advise you don’t take the chance on a company that won’t take your calls or try to help you if something like this happens.

    Transter Express buses, if you are reading this, I am more than happy to take your call and you can explain to us why you think why your bus driver did what he did. Some things like long immigration queues or traffic are out of your control, but leaving passengers behind and not helping them when they are in trouble – that is NEVER acceptable.

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