One thing we were curious to try with hota-time is to see whether the idea and the code could be applied beyond looking at London-Sydney travel times. And it can! Here is the output for Melbourne-Sydney travel times, in hours rather than days:
Lots of data points, roughly the same as for the London-Sydney plot. It does look like there is some sort of trend over time, but it's pretty messy. So let's break it down a bit so we can see what's going on.
As with the previous post, this is colour-separated into domains:
- dark red: sea
- indigo: land
- yellow: air
Land is new here (obviously being not very applicable to London-Sydney travel), and also the distinction between present and future has been dropped (as there was less speculation and more action here, an interesting fact in itself).
So once again, there's not much dark red - not much interest in the headlines about fast sea travel between Australia's two biggest cities (at least none that matches our particular formula). And there is a gratifying amount of yellow, representing air travel (SYD-MEL regularly shows up in the world's top 10 busiest air routes, so maybe this is not a surprise). From just before the First World War up until the Second, this is a near-constant presence, starting out around 10 hours and declining to 2 hours. (That early outlier in 1894 is none other than our old friend, N. R. Gordon.)
What was surprising, though, is how much indigo there is -- obviously, land transport. This is a mixed category: trains, motor cars, motorcycles, bicycles, even horses and walking. We should perhaps subdivide this further, but collating this data already involves a fair bit of manual editing (which gets less feasible the bigger the data gets) and it's informative as it is.
What interests me about the indigo data particularly is that while, yes, air travel between the two cities was nearly always faster in practice and in imagination than land travel (though do note the 2 hours predicted in 1914 for the Bachelet 'Air Train'), it didn't displace attempts to get between the two cities ever faster on land. Indeed, there still a healthy number of indigo data points during the 1920s and 1930s (aka the 'golden age of aviation'). What's more, it's clear from the above plot that there was already a speed culture before aviation made an impact. This begins in our data quite abruptly in 1908 with an attempt to breach the 24-hour mark in a motor car (even as late as 1905 motor cars were taking 6 days to make the trip -- albeit in stages, as it was a question of reliability more than speed); by 1935 this record was down to just under 9 hours. In fact, inspecting the data a bit more closely, there were already cycling record attempts by 1896, so the speed culture does go back a long way.
As for trends, again these are easier to see by plotting median values:
Again, sea travel is not really showing up, though at around 30-35 hours it is competitive with land travel into the early 20th century. Land travel declines from 20-25 hours in the pre-1914 period down to 10-15 hours by 1925, and then flattens out and even rises in the late 1930s (though this is mainly due to a burst of interest in cycling records). And air travel starts out at around 5-10 hours before the First World War, and is already down at the 2 hour mark as early as 1931. Flying time between Sydney and Melbourne is a touch under 1.5 hours even today -- must be time for an SST?
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