Bus Queue Ethics

The British love to queue. Whether it’s Wimbledon fortnight, a taxi rank or the (somewhat bizarre) 500m line to get in to see Dirty Dancing in the West End, the Brits are perfectly happy – even if it’s raining.

Today was a perfect example of this love affair. At bus stops around the capital, commuters lined up waiting for packed buses thanks to a 48 hour tube strike. At Waterloo there were lines snaking round the block, marshalled by efficient people in flourescent jackets.
Not all queues were as efficient and it got me pondering (on my 2 hour journey to work) on my own bus queue theory. One might even call it the ethics of waiting for a bus.
It is as follows:
  • The elderly, infirm and those with small children take priority regardless. (Though there may be slightly less sympathy for those with majorly huge buggies – you know, the ones that double up as baby carriage and small armoured vehicle.)
  • Subsequently, queuers (or queueees?) are prioritised according to distance. Those going the furthest taking priority over those going just a few stops. (A distance one might even call ‘walkable’.)
This morning this would have involved the forcible removal from the queue of girls attending a school less than 15mins walk away. Just because they get free bus travel doesn’t mean they have to use it – think of the teenage obesity epedemic!
It would also have prevented the selfish actions of individuals who, having got the last space on a bus (leaving others at the bus stop) then got off two stops later, amid much tutting from fellow passengers.
I would also have issued an edict that all travellers to Elephant & Castle (yes, that might qualify for ‘favourite named place in London’, shame it’s such a dive) and beyond had priority.
Of course, I would be too terrified to say anything like this aloud in such a queue, as I would actually like to see my next birthday.

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