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A design hinted at by Jug Cerovic after last year’s Transit Mapping Symposium, and seen in a photograph earlier this year has finally been made official. Here’s the new Singapore MRT map, currently only installed at the new Thomson-East Coast Line stations (Woodlands North, Woodlands and Woodlands South) but planned to be rolled out to the entire network. Of note is that the process for this redesign began way back in 2015 with a lot of public engagement and testing of prototypes — new transit maps don’t just happen overnight!
The first thing to notice is that the Circle Line is now actually a circle, which works fairly well for the most part: the stations along its arc are spaced out relatively evenly, and it seems to create a bit more space for the busier central part of the map. This allows a rudimentary representation of the Singapore River and Marina Bay to be added, along with little icons of sights in the vicinity. It’s a nice usability touch to help tourists orient themselves on an otherwise fairly featureless map. The prototype seen in the earlier photo showed the Botanic Gardens as a lonely green “parkland” area, but that seems to have been deleted for the final version.
Also interesting is that Singapore is now properly presented as an island, though a pretty roughly-drawn, blobby one that I don’t find particularly attractive. In reality, the eastern part of the green East-West Line out to Pasir Ris and Changi Airport shadows the coastline pretty closely the whole way: the map makes it look like there’s a giant empty “transit desert” in the island’s south-east quadrant! The addition of Sentosa Island and the connections from HarbourFront station are very welcome, however. Jurong Island doesn’t seem to rate, though… it can hang out with Tasmania and New Zealand as islands that get left off maps.
The presentation of the new Thomson-East Coast Line is perhaps problematic… it’s basically shown as if it was complete, without the usual dashed/faded/hollow line to indicate future sections under construction. Instead, all the stations that have yet to be opened have a brown “U/C” — for “Under Construction” — appended to their label. However, this code isn’t explained anywhere in the legend, which doesn’t seem very helpful to me. I wonder whether the maps are going to be updated by simply placing white stickers over the “U/C” labels as new stations come on-line?
Other quick notes: Line numbering seems to be de-emphasized in favour of line names and destinations now, with the numbered bullets at the termini much smaller when compared to previous maps. The numbered station “caplets” (to use official LTA terminology) are probably the best executed example of this style in the world: clear but distinctively designed, and able to handle multi-line interchange stations with aplomb. Addition of the future Jurong Region line looks like it’s going to be problematic within this framework.
The final word: A considered evolution of the existing house style, and one that’s definitely growing on me. I wish the island itself had a slightly more refined shape, but you can’t have everything. Three-and-a-half stars.
This article first appeared on www.transitmap.net
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