21 February 2009

To wait or not to wait...

It's the age-old problem: You're running late for work, a meeting, a train in town and with this time fast approaching, you stand at your local bus stop, mind racing, wondering if it might actually be quicker to start walking, either to your destination or to the next stop, at which more buses call.

We've all been so annoyed by the lateness of buses on occasions that often it's been possible to have saved some money and walked there instead. Then there are the times you've decided to do this only for the flaming thing to pass you mid-stop!!!

Who'd have thought it, then, that we would turn to the US to assist us in our mental calculation of what to do? Students there have devised a Bus-wait Formula that aims to definitively calculate whether you should start walking or stay put.

Why shouldn't the US be at the forefront of this type of thing? After all, they have buses, too - and far more of them than we do. Bus enthusiasm for public transport - specifically buses - is very latent 'across the pond' and it's something I was really shocked to see people had spent time on.

Perhaps not as surprising is the conclusion given: "Laziness almost always works!"

How did they arrive at that? Well, in an article that appeared in the New York Times recently, the students explained that according to the Bus-wait Formula, it's nearly always better to wait at your stop, where you can avail yourself of a book or to chat to fellow passengers. Catching the same bus further down the route will not save anything, it'll only have aggrieved you further as your journey will have been further dragged-out.

"The exception is if you have less than a mile to walk, and your bus is likely to take more than 30 minutes to arrive, in which case, you’re better to walk." But then wouldn't we all do that anyway? (CW)