5 Minutes Early: A Self-Analysis

So as I have previously explained, my blog is called ‘5 Minutes Early’ because when I decided to start blogging about human behaviour it prompted me to reflect on my own behaviours. One of the things I noticed was that I always get to the bus stop 5 minutes early.

At the most basic level, I think it is just a personal preference that I like to be early. Actually, it is more that I don’t like to be late. This has always been part of my character for which I must ‘thank’ my parents. Obviously being late for the bus isn’t a desirable thing because that would usually mean missing the bus, but why do I arrive 5 minutes early and not just 1 minute early (noting that timetables exist and bus tracker apps are very good)? I guess I like to know that my walk to the bus stop will be stress-free. I like to give myself enough of a buffer to know that I don’t even need to glance at my watch to check that I’m on time. Furthermore, whilst we do have timetables and bus tracker apps, I’m not sure that I trust them to be 100% reliable. It is not often that buses are early, but it has happened to me and I guess that probably adds some wariness to my decision making.

My self-analysis has lead me to think about the bus route I chose… I usual walk about 10 minutes to the catch the bus – the 23 to those of you who know Edinburgh.  There are alternative bus routes available to me, but when I take the 23 I catch it at the start of the route.  This means the bus is usually sitting and waiting before it is time to start its journey. I’m now thinking that perhaps part of my decision to choose the 23 is because I like to be early and know that I can jump on board the bus while it waits rather than having to stand in the cold. I’ll often get on board and pull out my phone, or my book, or the newspaper, so maybe it isn’t really a waste of time getting to the stop early.

So, where does my self-analysis lead me? Well, from a personal point of view, I would like to know that the environment in which I am waiting is pleasant.  Ideally this includes shelter against the Scottish weather! It also makes me realise how important reliable information is. It probably only took one or two ‘wrong’ pieces of information regarding bus times, to make me lose some level of trust in being able to simply get to the bus stop when the bus is due.

From a professional point of view, this analysis prompts me to make sure I really understand different user preferences. To me, being early is just normal, but I shouldn’t forget that many other people would happily get to the bus stop just 1 minute early (or less).  Additionally, it has made me think more about how being early for the bus could be turned into a positive. In a project I led a year or so ago, we designed an app to encourage people to walk to the next bus stop if they arrived early.  This aimed to bring health benefits, from higher levels of walking, to people taking public transport. But, what else might we use that time for?

What about you? Are you someone who likes to get there early, or just on time? Ever thought about why you make those choices, or what they mean to your travel experiences and expectations for transport?

2 replies on “5 Minutes Early: A Self-Analysis”

Just returning to this post…… Driving to work recently I watched a man suddenly decide to run for the bus stop about 200 m away as the bus was just pulling up. This caused me think about his thought processes and at which point any of us would decide to make a dash for it or let it be. Certainly in the past I know I’ve made the conscious decision to take the next bus but what influences this decision? I suppose the basics are fitness versus distance coupled with the reason for the journey. Nonetheless, I guess the final decision will vary from individual to individual based on personal traits – but what is at play here and what are the prevailing characteristics? So given that you are a 5 minute early person are you a runner or walker?

I’m certainly a walker! However, I have been known to run for the bus on the odd occasion. Primarily this has been of an evening when I know the buses are running less regularly and I don’t want to be waiting a long time in the cold and dark for the next bus. So yes, I would agree with ‘ability’ as a factor, but would also add ‘perceived time until next bus’, ‘urgency to reach final destination’ and ‘previous experience at the bus stop in question’ (i.e. have you previously experienced the bus to wait for other runners). Sure there are many other factors too!

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