A Fragile Line: A Memory From 2008

I wrote the following piece in February 2008.  I was still working, and therefore commuting to Richmond every day.  New boarding regulations had just come into force for the 98 and 99 B Line buses:


 

Having been brought up in England in the 50s and 60s, I have a deeply ingrained sense of what is right and wrong when faced with a queue or line. The queue is the physical embodiment of that civilized leveling principle — first come, first served. An orderly queue is not something one should mess with. In North America generally and Canada in particular, the orderly queue is a rare event, saved mainly for those lining up days in advance to buy concert tickets or an attractive condo. Even then, I suspect, orderliness and decorum is better at the front of the line than closer to the back.

I am acutely aware of the lack of queue etiquette here, traveling as I do by bus every day. A day didn’t go by without someone barging into the line or to the front of it without a single thought for those who had been waiting patiently. When challenged on their rudeness, most of them genuinely seem baffled that something else might have been expected of them. Now, it is worse.

bus

The otherwise wonderful express 98 and 99 B-Line buses have three set of doors. Since Tuesday, the system has allowed riders to board through all three doors. No longer do you have to show your bus pass to the driver at the front (financial integrity is now maintained by the goons with guns otherwise known as the Transit Police). This is an improvement in convenience, certainly, but it has dealt a death blow to the fragile flower known as a bus queue.

In my youth, I am sure, riders would have worked out where the doors would be when the bus was at the stop and would form three lines corresponding with the entrances. Not here, oh no. Now, here, the crowd schmeers itself along the whole length of where the bus will be and, upon its arrival, the crowd rushes pell-mell for the doors. What a damn mess!

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