Preparing to take transit (Photo: Green Action Centre)

With the new school year starting it can be a great time to introduce your kids to transit. Whether you’ll be taking transit with your children, or whether they’re at an age to try transit on their own, public transit can help you to avoid rush-hour stress, school bus headaches, and wasted gas. If your kids will be boarding the bus solo this fall, read on for some handy tips.

Plan ahead. Help your kids plan their own bus route to school. Winnipeg Transit has a variety of Transit Tools, including Navigo – an online trip planner, and BUStxt. Once they’ve planned their route, go with them the first few times. Let your kids step on first, pay, ask for a transfer if needed, request their stop, and so on. If your kids haven’t taken transit often with you, review some of the rules and customs when riding transit, like letting passengers exit the bus before they step on, exiting by the back door whenever possible, and keeping in mind that the first few seats are reserved for seniors, people with mobility problems, and parents with strollers.

Just in case. Pack extra bus tickets and change for a pay phone (if they don’t have a cell phone) in a safe place. That way, even if they loose their bus pass, they can still take another bus.

Safety first. Winnipeg Transit offers these additional safety suggestions for kids preparing to take transit on their own:

  • Stand at a safe distance from the curb while waiting for the bus.
  • Take off your backpack and hold it in front of you down the aisle.
  • Do not tell anyone where you live, your telephone number or your full name. If someone is making you uncomfortable, go and tell the bus driver.
  • If you get lost or miss your bus, wait at the bus stop and ask the bus driver in the next bus for help.
  • Cross the road at an intersection or marked crosswalk after the transit bus has left the stop.
  • When you can, find fellow classmates traveling the same route.

So plan ahead and take public transit to school and work this fall. Older children will gain a new sense of independence on their journey, and parents may find they have a little more freedom in their commuting choices now, too!