What happens when you miss the first bus?
It’s 2:47pm on Sunday afternoon, 7th March 2021 and I’m about to miss the opportunity of a lifetime.
I have computed a hypothetical journey into Transport NSW’s Trip Planner; getting from St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney to Mystery Bay, which is a coastal area in NSW to visit my friend, by public transport.
The journey that gets me there earliest begins 3 minutes from now and is detailed below. If you examine the itinerary carefully, there is a critical flaw somewhere. Let’s see if you can find it.
Here’s my journey to Mystery Bay:
Walk 10 minutes from St. Mary’s Cathedral to Castlereagh St before Bathurst St, Sydney.
Get the bus numbered 461X — City Domain to Burwood (Operated by Transit Systems). (1 Stop)
I’ll arrive at Haymarket Light Rail Stop, Rawson Pl. From there I need to walk a distance of 421 metres, which will take 9 minutes, to arrive at Central Station.
From Coach Bay 4, I need to catch the 65SC Bus to Thirroul, because buses are replacing trains this weekend.
From Thirroul Station, I need to walk 2 minutes (12 metres) to get to Platform 2. There I get a train.
There I get a train to Kiama, which will take 11 stops.
At Kiama Station, I go from Platform 2 to Platform 1, and catch the 5:51pm Train to Bomaderry.
At Bomaderry Station I change again for a bus from Mitchell Street that takes 24 stops to get to Mystery Bay at 10:10pm, Sunday 7th March 2021.
Note: The Journey takes more than 7 hours.
My journey takes more than 7 hours, and has 8 discrete steps.
At the end of each step, I have to pivot. I have to change direction, because the bus or train I’m on heads off in a direction I no longer want to follow. In one of our favourite metaphors for journeying, the Thousand Doors, we would call this opening a new Door.
Your university degree or first project might not take you the whole way on your journey. Maybe it only takes you so far, and from that point, you need to change buses or trains?
There are multiple legs to the journey. Multiple Doors and Rooms to go through.
The first bus leaves at 3pm, but you cannot afford to miss it.
This is a crucial point. The first bus leaves at 3. Do you know the next opportunity I get to head to Mystery Bay if I miss the bus at 3pm?
9:07am tomorrow morning. More than 18 hours from now.
That’s a dramatic difference. Say I want to have another coffee, or take my time before I get going. The difference at the end of my journey is not 3 minutes on the other end. The gap, the disparity has blown out to 18 hours. That’s three quarters of a full day.
So what have we learnt? That whilst the first bus leaves at 3pm, the next bus leaves 9am tomorrow morning.
That 461X bus comes every 15 minutes however. But the fact that it comes every 15 minutes is ok if your destination is Central Station. But having been to Central Station many times, I can be sure that this is not my final destination. My destination is Mystery Bay.
“Luck is like a bus. If you miss one, there’s always the next one. But if you’re not prepared, you won’t be able to jump on” — Qi Lu
What’s keeping you from catching the first bus?
The later you leave, the later you’ll arrive.
Don’t rush… but don’t delay. “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast”. So move slowly, but make sure that you are moving.
The later you leave, the later you’ll arrive. But some people never leave — and so, thanks to the laws of physics, they never arrive.