Monday 28 December 2020

What colour is the Circle Line? No, Virginia, the Circle Line is not yellow (or a circle)

Dear Minister of Transport,

Sorry to bother you.

I know you’re busy taking selfies in front of the Covid-19 vaccine transport plane.

But there’s an urgent issue regarding our national Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system that needs your immediate attention as it’s tearing our country – and my family – apart.

Is the Circle Line yellow or orange?

It looks orangish on the map to me, but my daughter has always called it the yellow line. My wife knows it only as the Circle Line. My son doesn’t care.

Yes, it’s like #dressgate and Yanny/Laurel all over again, but this time, it’s hitting close to home, although I actually live closer to the North-South Line.

In a recent Twitter poll I found, 74 per cent say the Circle Line is yellow and 26 per cent say orange.

If this were an election, yellow would be president now and Coldplay would be playing the national anthem.

But orange has refused to concede and is officially backed by the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Last year, responding to a query about the colour of the Circle Line, LTA replied in an e-mail: “Pleased to share that Circle Line colour is orange. The tone/shade may vary on different elements such as vinyl sticker, printed on paper or silkscreen… illuminated signs.”

But confusingly, SMRT Corporation has referred to the Circle Line as “yellow line” in a bunch of 2012 tweets.

However, SMRT appears to have recently changed its tune, or at least its colour perception.

Last week, replying to a query, someone in SMRT customer relations wrote in an e-mail: “We wish to share that SMRT Circle Line is orange in colour.”

A screenshot of the reply has been circulating online since, plunging our nation into a bitter colour war.

People are beating up each other black and blue over the yellow and orange at Boat Quay and Clarke Quay.

Some took the opportunity in the hue and cry to vent long pent-up resentment against the Circle Line for not being an actual circle in real life no matter how the authorities draw it on the map.

Fake news! They’re lying to us about the Circle Line being orange just like they’re lying to us about it being circular.

So I don’t know how many were persuaded by LTA’s response on Christmas Eve to a Mothership article wondering whether the Circle Line is yellow or orange.

LTA posted an orange dot with the comment: “‘Orange’ you glad we've cleared this up.”

A Christmas miracle it wasn’t. Peace on earth wasn’t achieved. The pun didn’t help.

My daughter, for one, remains unmoved. She’s part of the younger generation who grew up memorising the MRT lines as yellow line, red line, green line and blue line.

Whereas to her mother and me, they’re the Circle Line, North-South Line, East-West Line and Downtown Line respectively.

At least, we all agree on what to call the North-East Line – NEL. It’s just fun to say.

So for LTA and SMRT to declare that the Circle Line is not yellow, it’s like saying no, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus.

We all know what the truth is, but as a parent, I would like to hold off destroying that part of my daughter’s childhood for as long as I can, even though she’s already 21.

Could you, as Transport Minister, in the spirit of Christmas, override LTA and SMRT, and decree that the Circle Line is yellow?

Do it for the children.

2020 has already taken so much from all of us. Grant us this one thing to end the year on a brighter note. It would tickle us pink. Thank you.

Merry Christmas and happy new year, hopefully.

- Published in The New Paper, 28 December 2020