Originally Posted by NYCJIM
In the Catskills, anyway, there's never a shortage of individual skiers to fill seats. So the idea that groups and couples are on the individual line to "help" out where there is a shortage is disengenuous to say the least.
If you look at all the comments and logic above, I say--once again--: Why then have any individual line at all? On the group line the liftie could just ask, "Single?", and then somebody could just immediately volunteer.
"Help out" comment -- not what anyone said. Filling the seats is the reason the line exists. Why would I choose to split up into the singles line? Not because I just really want to fill those seats from the goodness of my heart -- but because by filling those seats I get a seat sooner. I'm doing it in my self-interest but it is not selfish. Big difference.
Why have the individual line at all if that is its purpose (meaning to fill seats I assume) -- Clearly you didn't ski in the days before the invention of the single line. Yelling "single" and moving through the line to find a partner was how it worked in the old days. The burden fell on the single to find a partner and sometimes they'd even hold a single who got to the front of the line still unattached waiting until they found him a partner (I'm sure you would love that!).
Between the yelling, moving through the line to find each other and being held if you didn't find a partner it didn't work so well. Think of the comments people made of not liking people pushing through the line to join friends ahead -- without the singles line that was a constant part of the line experience. With triples and quads there was even greater need to fill seats -- thus the invention of the easier singles line system. I find the singles line has made skiing solo much more pleasant as it avoids the awkwardness of finding your own partner - with a bonus of being a shorter line.
Re Single meaning skiing alone -- I was thinking about why you would think this. Those that have skied longer than you have history and experience with the work "single" in a lift line not applying to only someone skiing alone -- long before the invention of the singles line. With double chairs every group that had an odd number of individuals in it actually contained a single – most singles were part of a group who couldn’t divide evenly into the double chairs.
A family of 3 or 5 always contained a single. Any group of odd number needed to find a partner for their single (by the old shout "single" and squeeze through the line to the person that shouted "single" back system). Thus "single" in line never meant I'm skiing alone.
More groups avoid the odd man out now as you can split up into more different combinations with higher capacity chairs to avoid someone having to go alone (5 becomes a 3 and a 2 with room for 3 singles instead of a 4 and a single). Which is why a smooth running singles line is important to fill capacity and moves fast despite looking long -- that group of 5 opened up spots for 3 singles!
Re your most recent point as to why the singles line is singles-width -- Once any individual enters that line they are lined up in a line to load a chair one at a time and fill spots. That is why they are lined up single file -- easy and clear for the lift attendent to pick the next person from line to fill the spot. If two spots are available they take one from the singles line on each side of the chair. To load single spots efficiently you should have a single file line -- even if you know the people ahead of or behind you. That is irrelevant.
I'm sorry if this doesn't make sense to you but I really don't think you'll find much evidence for your take on the purpose of the singles line. If it isn't to fill empty seats but is for people skiing alone why would the resort have a singles line? What would be their reason for setting up a special line for people skiing alone? I guess I can see if you started skiing more recently (and I guess the singles line has existed for over 20 years so recent is a relative term here) and read the sign perhaps you though it meant skiing solo. If that was the case perhaps now you see the intended meaning. If you are still uncertain perhaps you should ask managment or the lift attendents at your mountain for clarification.
Enjoy your solo skiing. Even when the line seems long it is still shorter than the other line (unless there are a lot of people who can't judge right).