Waiting for the Elevator (Lift)

Photo: Theresa Christy, with stopwatch, inside an elevator at the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco. Photo: Winni Wintermeyer for «The Wall Street Journal».
Photo: Theresa Christy, with stopwatch (no, it’s not a banana, or a half-eaten mango) inside an elevator at the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco. Photo: Winni Wintermeyer for «The Wall Street Journal».

What would you like to read while you are waiting for the (US) elevator or (UK) lift?

«The Wall Street Journal» has an article by Kate Linebaugh that would fill the time nicely.

You press a button and wait for your elevator. How long before you get impatient and agitated? Theresa Christy says 20 seconds.

s a mathematician steeped in the theories of vertical transportation at Otis Elevator Co., Ms. Christy, 55, has spent a quarter-century developing systems that make elevators run as perfectly as possible—which means getting most riders into a car in less than 20 seconds. “Traditionally, the wait time is the most important factor,” she says. “The thing people hate the most is waiting…..

Another problem: How many people fit in an elevator? In Asia, more people will board a car than in Europe or New York, Ms. Christy says; Westerners prefer more personal space. When she programs an elevator system she uses different weights for the average person by region. The average American is 22 pounds heavier than the average Chinese….

In the real world, there are so many parameters and combinations that everything changes as soon as the next rider presses a button. In a building with six elevators and 10 people trying to move between floors, there are over 60 million possible combinations—too many, she says, for the elevator’s computer to process in split seconds…”

More illuminations here.