#222 Is the queue worth waiting for?

The first bus ride I took was a school bus. School buses near the Pretoria News offices, across the street from Church Square and close to a lady’s newspaper wrapped magwenya stall.

She served them hot, and they were in high demand. This forced everyone to queue as she made them. She literally had to keep them cooking and sold them fresh from the pot into a newspaper.

This was my first lesson about queueing problems. The dispatch, or number of people coming out of her system with fat cakes was subject to how fast and how many she could prepare; and how quickly people arrived. If she’s slow, the queue piles up; if people are few then her fat cakes pile up.

It gets worse. If you’re catching a school bus, they only take a certain number, and they are few: spaced about 20 minutes apart or so. On mornings when I’d arrive later or join the queue when it’s long, I knew that missing the “first bus” would be inevitable. To arrive in time, the last bus is the one to avoid because by then Pretoria is awake and traffic could cause delays.

This was a second lesson in the queueing problem: it ripples through various avenues of our “temporal landscape”. This is the picture my current research aims to paint from an analytical perspective. Starting off small, then spreading it out gradually. There’s no rush, because the quality of each phase of analysis goes a long way.

So far, I’ve done about two iterations of the similar processes in MAHIKENG, but they reminded me of an experience in CAPE TOWN. The MyCiti bus had a peak hour queue that is horrific in length and density on the day of this photo. It was like a battlefield of people standing in line waiting to get home. Every line at the Civic Centre was clogged, while across the street and one floor up taxis queued and honked. Down below Golden Arrow buses were also stacking up commuters, but most were bunched like the buses at the bus stops. Train sets were also piling up for commuters, but the lines were becoming unpredictable. This is probably the case across all cities, towns and modes.

This made me realize how interesting of a study this is, and with reviewers comments in mind I’ve taken the work a few steps further.

Now I’m asking if the queue for the fat cakes was worth it. When the studies are done, more details will follow.

*Thank you for reading.

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