Similar intro, but different backing than The Box Tops “The Letter” from 1967 (…”ain’t got time to take a fast train … / …I don’t care how much money I gotta spend…”) – Here’s from the unfailing reservoir of absurdities created by the combination of today’s most innovative powers: low-cost air travel marketing and – generation Millennials.
18-year-old Jordon Cox made a detour of over 1,600 km to save 7 £. Fair enough! Initially, he simply aimed at getting home to Hutton (Essex), straight after a meeting he’d attended in Sheffield (South Yorkshire) – a trip of 294 km, which is below that 300 km-mark known from an unwritten law in aviation stating that air transport is unable to compete over distances less than 300 km, due to
a) the cost of transportation (which is a declining increasing function of the flight distance or duration) and
b) the length of time (flying’s inevitable sectors before take-off and past touchdown remain constantly long – and eventually the flight’s velocity advantage becomes extinct). Obviously, South Yorkshire to Essex is road and rail territory – one would think…
However, Jordon Cox’s reconsideration of the issue is rather splendid – and narrow-minded at first glance only. Driving wasn’t an option, so he had to compare his choices in public transport. The train from Sheffield to Shenfield (Essex, close to East London) comes out at 49 £, another 1.80 £ for the bus from Shenfield to Hutton (totals three hours journey time), and Mr. Cox would have allowed for a further 2.99 £ to consume a “ham and cheddar toastie for lunch” in what can be described as schoolmasterly and thoroughly budgeting. Totals 51.79 £.
Well, this is where canonical budgeting ends by means of a decision memo, I’d say. Far from it! Get the Cox Lesson-in-Thinking-Outside-the-Box (although I still fail to understand part of the motivation):
1. a train from Sheffield to Derby (Derbyshire) at 4.00 £,
2. the bus from Derby to East Midlands Airport (EMA) at 4.20 £,
3. a flight from EMA to Berlin Schönefeld for just 11.83 £,
4. public transport return ticket from Berlin airport to centre for roughly 5 £,
5. “Currywurst sausage for lunch” for about 1.50 £ (not sure if that bears comparison with the “ham and cheddar toastie”),
6. a flight from Berlin Schönefeld to London Stansted at 9.54 £ and, finally
7. the bus from Stansted to Hutton for 8 £.
Total cost 44.07 £ – he’d saved 7.72 £. The extra time spent didn’t matter that much – Berlin was on his tourism wish list for quite some time. He even got to know the city by getting paid for being a tourist (7.72 £)!
As enjoyable as this may have sounded, the coup shouldn’t encourage imitation. The equation was incomplete. Time and money are important, and so is tourism – in today’s affluent society. However, in order to value an item, its price will have to be reflective of the real cost – not to mention the environmental impact.
“The most important thing we can do is inspire young minds and to advance the kind of science, math and technology education that will help youngsters take us to the next phase of space travel. “ (John Glenn)
“Thought and theory must precede all salutary action; yet action is nobler in itself than either thought or theory.” (Virginia Woolf)