Kids Ride Public Transportation

Operation Wheels On The Bus – Ride Public Transportation

We happen to live in a slightly more rural area neighboring on larger cities. The bus service in our area consists of one route to get to the main bus system which is quite comprehensive, it just takes some doing to get there. As such our boys have never ridden public transportation and based on my conversations many people are in the same boat. This mission is intended to open their eyes a bit and let them get a little freedom. My boys are ages 11 and 13 so I’m confident in sending them on this mission, obviously this mission won’t be for everyone if you are concerned about their safety or don’t have public transit options, but it’s also a challenge to let your kids experience the world a bit on their own.

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Operation Wheels On The Bus: Ride Public Transportation

In our original mission Operation Timbuktu you navigated a mechanized vehicle to a destination. In Operation Wheels On The Bus you’ll use some of your navigation skills to ride public transport to a destination.

Computer or Bus Route Maps, Mission Notebook, Phone for communication to Base

Some of our Journey to Men participants may be no stranger to public transportation (buses, subways, trains, ferries, etc.) but many more have never ridden their cities transit. You’ll start by researching your transit options in your city or neighboring city, learn the service area and find a destination you want to reach and finally take the transport to and from your destination.

  1. Learn How to Use Your Public Transport
    The first step in this mission is to understand what public transit options you have in your city. Your city doesn’t have to be large to have some options. A quick Internet search for “ public transit” should bring up some options. If you have options in your city what you’ll also find often is a guide to riding or using those services. For instance Stanislaus has a nice guide on using their public bus system that’s a great starting point to the new traveler. You’ll find out such tips as where to catch the bus or train, how much it costs and timetables.
  2. Plan Your Bus Route
    This might be the hardest part of your mission depending on how big your transit system is in your area. For instance in my area of the Seattle region we have 4 different transit authorities that work together but it can be confusing which goes where and how they work together. We have a combination of Buses, Trains, Light Rail and Ferries to get you where you want to go. Fortunately most of the systems will work together to get you a trip planned.

    So to start off you need to know your starting point (typically your address) and then your destination address. Piece of cake. Now you need to find out the nearest route you would get on to reach your destination. In many cases you’ll need to walk a bit or examine a bus route to see if it passes by your location. You may find to be useful in planning a route if your city is covered. It will give you suggestions on routes and bus numbers and times. Really useful stuff but again your local transit authority might also have a trip planner handy.

    At this point you’ll want to write down information about your trip in your mission notebook. If you have a timetable or route from your planning website you want to print off, include that too.

  3. Present your Trip to Your C.O.
    In order to get your travel permit you need to talk to your C.O. about your trip and demonstrate your knowledge of the public transit process. Give them the run down on the route, when you are going to take which transport option, how much it will cost, where you are going and when you’ll be back. Also talk about your communication strategy and who is going on the trip with you and how you are going to be safe. The buddy system is highly recommended if this is your maiden voyage.
  4. Be Safe On Public Transportation
    In most cases public transportation is very safe but you should also be aware of your surroundings and take some steps to make sure you are being smart about your trip.

    • Always be alert about your surroundings and the people around you
    • Don’t talk to strangers
    • Don’t wear headphones or bury your head in your phone, you need to know what’s going on.
    • If you are carrying money or your wallet, keep it in your front pocket
    • If there is any problem at all inform the bus driver or train conductor immediately and they’ll help you.
  5. Travel to Your Destination
    Now it’s time to get traveling. Be sure you have a phone available to communicate to base your whereabouts and provide positional updates.

If you have public transportation available it can be a gateway to a whole new world and freedom but only if you are a responsible and smart rider. Demonstrating those skills to your parental units is important for this mission.


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