The best bus ever

The best bus ever
Jason Sievers' awesome Art in Transit bus

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Raising a generation of riders

Some of my fondest memories of growing up in Pittsburgh involve riding our trolleys and buses. I'm confident that my adolescent adventures on transit made me the committed bus rider I am today. And the earlier we can start, the better.

I went downtown on the #3 Vista earlier than usual today, sharing my ride with lots of Boise High School students. But the trip back two hours later was even better: Two dozen preschoolers and their teachers from a downtown day-care center clambered on board at 8th and Idaho and rode across downtown to story time at the library. They were all smiles and giggles, and one of the teachers told me the kids absolutely love to ride the bus.

An hour before, at the annual breakfast meeting of the Downtown Boise Association, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter remarked that his own daughter is in love with the book The Wheels on the Bus. "I'm working on a version with a train," he added. (Bieter and visiting leaders from other cities had more to say about transit and other topics. See my report at Red State Rebels.)

Right now, bus riding has a rap among too many people as the transportation option of last resort. But if we can change that image to one of fun, adventure, and camaraderie - clearly the way the preschoolers view it - not to mention that it's the right thing to do to cut traffic and air pollution ... well, maybe we can raise a generation of riders who believe public transit is the best way to go.


Wendy said...

I'd love to see schoolchildren taking the bus one time a year for each grade level. With parents as chaperones, they would learn the ways and joys of the bus too!

But is it true that there is now some policy against Boise School students taking the bus for field trips?

And how do these fit into the Idaho Achievement Standards and Performance Objectives?

Julie in Boise said...

If there is a policy against using the city bus for field trips, it's new this school year. My daughter is now in junior high, but kids from her elementary school (Hawthorne) used the nearby bus routes for several field trips downtown during her time there.

Of course, with Valley Ride's spacious schedules (service only once an hour at midday on many routes), these trips had to be very carefully timed.

Wendy, you are joking about the standards and objectives, right? I hope?!

Anonymous said...

Long ago, I suggested the following marketing campaign:

Hire extremely attractive people -- both male and female -- to ride the bus, and especially, to sit at the most visible bus stops.

Seriously. It would work.

Julie in Boise said...

Nice, Danielo.