Originally Posted by crgildart
Doesn't happen often where I ski. The singles line is rarely more than half the wait of the regular line. If everyone knew about groups ability to utilize it that advantage would quickly evaporate. Two groups of four can fill up almost half of the lane back to the entrance. There really isn't much room for more than 15-20 people in a singles line corral around here.
I think you vastly underestimate people's preference to stay in a group with each other.
Keep in mind that lots of people go skiing with each other as partially a social thing. I know when I ski with my dad, this is one of the few times a year that it's just him and me. We ski the runs fairly hard, so the line wait and lift is when we actually talk to each other (not to mention give us some rest). When I ski with friends, it's often this way too. If I had to estimate, it'd take about a 5+ minute longer group wait vs. singles for it to be worth splitting up for us in these situations.
I'm looking at Vail's new snazzy estimator and if you exclude the mountain access gondolas the only lift with a longer than 5 minute wait right now, at 10:20am on pretty peak time, is Avanti at 6. (Breck is similar). The bookends of the day can certainly get longer (and if ski patrol has to evac via lift!), but most of the time the minor time advantages of breaking up a group to go singles just isn't worth it for most people. It's not that we don't know we can go faster by doing it.
These things tend to balance out. I ski on my own a fair bit, and it's rare to ever feel like a group splitting has screwed me in particular -- it's always just that the whole lift line is FUBAR for reasons beyond anyone's control.