An express lane, and faster-than-reported wait to see Mr Lee

SINGAPORE - State funeral organisers refined the queuing system once more for those lining up to pay their respects to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew on Friday morning, with a new filter for the priority lane.

This "express" lane was strictly for those in wheelchairs or with prams, and promised almost direct access to Parliament House, where Mr Lee is lying in state. Ushers stopped anyone who did not look like they belonged.

As on Wednesday and Thursday, the elderly and those with young children continued to have priority access.

As at 4pm on Friday, the third day of public mourning, ushers told those in this priority line that it would be a three-hour wait to see Mr Lee.

In the normal line, however, officials said it would be a nine-hour wait.

But many told the Straits Times that the reality was much quicker, with many citing wait times of four to six hours for the normal lines, and one to two hours for the priority line. Those in the express lane took about 30 minutes to get through.

Retiree Lai Yue Ngoh, 81, said she was initially scared off by what ushers told her would be a three-hour wait, even in the priority queue.

She pressed on, knowing that Saturday would be the last day to pay her respects to Mr Lee, and was pleasantly surprised to find it only took an hour.

"Even if it were three hours, I would wait for Mr Lee. But even in death, his system is still very efficient," she said in Mandarin.

In the normal line, it was a similar case of "under-promising and over-delivering" on the part of the organisers.

App developer Benjamin Lim, 44, was told that it would be a six-hour wait. But within 1.5 hours, he could see the security entrance to the Parliament House.

The reason the estimated times and actual times are vastly different is because of the way the line is now designed. People are banded into "camps" of a few hundred to a thousand where they sit and wait. The camps absorb the rate at which people are added to the queue. When more people come, the camps expand. When fewer people arrive, the camps move faster and overall, the waiting time drops significantly.

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