Getting Kids on Buses

March 1st, 2019

By Jaime Akiyama, GreenUP Transportation & Urban Design Coordinator and Active and Safe Routes to School Chair

When kids become comfortable using transit at a young age, it allows them to be life-long users. Active and Safe Routes to School Peterborough has a fleet of transit programs that support getting kids on public transit. These programs allow students to gain valuable experiences and skills to support their future travel choices.

On the Bus, is a fun and interactive introduction to the Peterborough Transit System and is provided for grade three classes in the City of Peterborough. This program focuses on active and sustainable transportation choices and is also tailored to meet specific curriculum expectations.

Grade three students attending the On The Bus program learn how to navigate bus routes by reading a Peterborough Transit Map

During the program it is common for students to be able to list off the benefits of using public transportation. They recognize that if more people travel by bus we would have less cars on the road and therefore less pollution. Students frequently point out that riding public transit is a great way to interact with their community and get around without worrying about getting someone to drive them. Students are also very in tune with the reality that not everyone can afford a car and that other transportation options are important for various mobility and economic reasons.

It is also common to have more than three-quarters of the grade three participants identify that they have no experience on public transit. Often, this program is the first and perhaps the only experience on public transit that a student will have, that is, until grade eight.

The Grade 8 Transit Quest program encourages students to use Peterborough Transit by providing them with a free transit pass over the March Break.

The Quest works to increase familiarity with the Peterborough Transit System just as city youth begin to get around more independently. Transit can become a mode of transportation that is both normal and accessible for kids at this age, when they increase their comfort levels.

Feedback from past participants in The Quest highlights the sense of independence that comes from using public transit and the feeling that the students’ community is expanding with the increased access to riding the bus. After last year’s program, numerous students reported that they were more active during March Break because they had the option to take transit.

Feedback from students that chose not to participate last year indicated that they did not know how to use public transit and were not comfortable, or because it was not considered an option when a car was available.

If you live in the City of Peterborough and have a child in grade eight, watch their backpack for their free bus pass and help them plan for some transit trips around town this March Break. Watch the New to Transit? video at www.peterborough.ca/transit for great tips about using our bus system.

Active & Safe Routes to School Peterborough also encourages teachers to consider traveling using Peterborough Transit for their class trips, through the School Trip by Transit program. Peterborough Transit’s regular routes and schedule provide a transportation option that is inexpensive, convenient, and a valuable experience.

A class of students re-boards the city bus after visiting GreenUP Ecology Park in Peterborough, ON

Teachers that have used public transit with their classes have reported that the journey added an important learning opportunity, beyond the field trip destination. This program often creates experiences that have direct benefit to the students such as becoming familiar with transit maps, meeting a bus driver, and signalling for a stop along the way; it also helps students develop a skill that they can use throughout their lives.

Active & Safe Routes to School Peterborough also sees the benefits of public transportation as a contributor to better health. Short walks between transit stops and destinations adds needed physical activity to a person’s day and supports overall healthy habits. Using transit also helps you to avoid the stress associated with driving in congested areas.

Twenty grade three students participating in the On The Bus program, a grade eight student traveling on Peterborough Transit during March Break, and the kindergarten class taking public transit to the market for their field trip, are all building experiences and skills that will increase their travel options. So, whether a person is choosing public transit for environmental, health, social, or economic reasons, Active and Safe Routes to School Peterborough wants youth to be knowledgable and comfortable so that public transit is an easy, accessible option for them.

These school programs are only one way to gain experience and skills with public transit. Families are encouraged to introduce public transit to their children by regularly riding the bus together. Parents can teach children where to find transit information, how to plan a route, read a schedule, and model how to be prepared for fares and transfers. A little know fact; a single day pass, or up to two adults and four children can purchase a full-day transit pass for only eight dollars!

Are you new to transit? Check out www.peterborough.ca/transit for more information.

Heads up to grade eight students within the City of Peterborough – Your FREE Grade 8 Transit Quest bus pass will be delivered to your teacher the week prior to March Break. Don’t start your break without it!

These programs are made possible with the generous support from the City of Peterborough, Peterborough Transit, and the amazing bus drivers serving our community. For more information on Active and Safe Routes to School Peterborough’s fleet of transit programs, visit peterboroughmoves.com or greenup.on.ca.

The City of Peterborough has initiated three parallel and related studies to improve transit service now, and in the future.  The three studies are a Transit Route Review, a Long-term Transit Growth Strategy, and a Downtown Transit Hub Plan.  For more information and to get involved, visit ptstudy.ca.  

 

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