There’s only one bus that connects Cherrybrook directly to the city: the 620X, which runs from Dural to Kent Street in the CBD. The dearth of other public transport options and the fact that I’m still on my Ls leaves me little choice—every morning, it’s the the 620X and me, ready for a two-hour long commute to USyd.
My bus stop is near the start of the route, so I get the pick of the seats each morning. But the 620X fills up quickly—seats and seats of strangers together in silence, with some steeling themselves for the slog ahead and others on board for just a few stops.
Parents chaperoning their children to the local primary school. University students hauling themselves to another day of classes. Office workers gearing up for their desk-bound routine.
We don’t know each other, but we’re all in this together.
Each morning, the 620X cruises down the arterial roads that form the bulk of northern Sydney’s transport infrastructure: Pennant Hills Road, the M2, the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The lush bushlands of the Lane Cove National Park serve as a backdrop for part of the route, contrasting with the suburban landscapes directly behind it. Even toll road operator Transurban gets a look in, with its sculpture Kinetica, an attempt at modern art, watching me with its many eyes as I travel down the M2. With the low whirring of the 620X’s wheels the only noise, I can’t help but feel a reflective calm in this environment.
It’s a great opportunity to think.
Should I attend tonight’s welcome dinner with my fellow Evangelical Union law students? Should I seriously head into UNIQLO to buy a turtleneck to wear at the launch of a Law Society journal I’ve edited, just to execute a practical joke on the rest of the editorial team?
This time also provides me with the space to digest the world’s happenings. Bachelor in Paradise Australia recaps, the New Testament Book of John, searing critiques of the Trump administration in The Atlantic. Lately, I’ve also taken time to absorb the disco era’s best (Boney M’s ‘Sunny’ is a personal favourite).
The return trip is a rerun of the morning’s familiar sights, but now cast in different light. Office lamps flicker in Macquarie Park’s industrial complexes, workers burning the midnight oil. The streets of Cherrybrook are now bathed in a yellow glow, as if to welcome us back into its nighttime embrace.
But the 620X’s days as my avenue to USyd are numbered.
After the North West Rail Link opens next year, the Hills District will finally be accessible by train. Decades and decades of planning and arguing have come to a fruitful end. Many in my community—my parents, my friends, my driving instructor—are raring for the opening of Cherrybrook Station, and why shouldn’t they be? Who would pass up the opportunity to cut down their commute?
But I know this new-found efficiency will come at a cost.
Gone will be the time for peaceful reflection; the sardine crush of the the Sydney Trains network awaits. The mass of passengers spat out onto the Redfern run each morning will add one more to their number.
The 620X provided me with the space to breathe before the start—and at the end—of each day. On the rowdy Sydney Trains network, that space might not be there. I will sorely miss it.