There’s something that really gets to a Singaporean when the MRT breaks down. The frustration of losing a few minutes to possibly an hour in public transport, having to deal with the rush, and the crowd of frustrated people everywhere you turn. Singaporeans hate losing time, and there’s nothing worse than being surprised by a delay or breakdown.
But of all the saviours that could come to Singaporeans’ first world problems, Citymapper probably wouldn’t be the first you would think of. The UK-made transportation app first became available to Singapore early this year, but has since localised their content to make it more valuable than any stock map app you have in your smartphone. The main function on this app that will instantly get you hooked — its ability to keep on track with public transport disruptions.
The ability to stay up-to-date with transport disruptions has been a core feature of Citymapper in over 20 of the cities that it’s present in, but the feature was only recently made available in Singapore. To access this function is simple: when you’re attempting to calculate the best way to travel from place to place on the app, any affected route will be demarcated with the level of disruption. If there is a delay, it will be marked with a yellow ‘i’, meaning that the route is still available. A MRT breakdown, however, will be marked with a red cross, showing you that the route is not available. They will then offer you alternative routes, or notify you if there are free shuttle services available from that station.
According to Citymapper, this is just one of the many plans they have to localise their app for Singapore-based users. When the haze was at its worst, the app also helped to map Haze Safe routes, calculating routes that capped walking time to 5 minutes max, helping users minimise time outside in the haze. This feature is useful but limited, only showing up when a probable route is available.
Still, it’s pretty useful to have the option, especially when, according to local search engine Practo Pulse, eczema-related searches grew by a staggering 136% and searches for problems relating to dry eyes and cough tripled since the haze came to Singapore in August.
The app itself has a great interface, allowing you to save locations and calculate routes instantly, but localisation is something that has given it an edge, and perhaps even earned it a place in Singaporeans’ hearts. Citymapper has been the favourite of many in the approximately 30 cities that it’s in, and it even raised $10M last year to aid in its expansion. It uses big data to truly suss out the quickest ways around the city, even when your SMRT Twitter feed fails you.
According to Citymapper, they will be launching a simplified Chinese localisation of the whole app for predominantly Mandarin speakers, so there’s really no excuse for anyone who takes Singapore’s public transport to not use this app. It may not stop the MRT from breaking down altogether, but it will keep you from going into the eye of the storm (or the MRT station).