On The Bus program helps children learn to use transit

New Student Trip by Transit program also available for class trips this spring

Active and Safe Routes to School Peterborough helps children and youth across our community learn to become confident and enthusiastic transit riders by offering programs like On The Bus, Grade 8 Transit Quest, and (new this spring) Student Trip by Transit. (Photo: GreenUP)
Active and Safe Routes to School Peterborough helps children and youth across our community learn to become confident and enthusiastic transit riders by offering programs like On The Bus, Grade 8 Transit Quest, and (new this spring) Student Trip by Transit. (Photo: GreenUP)

I spent last week riding Peterborough Transit with busses full of grade three classes and, wow, were there a lot of laughs. On these trips, each class spent over an hour exploring Peterborough, learning how to travel on our public transit system, and gaining a better understanding of the benefits of active and sustainable transportation.

This was all part of On The Bus, one of several programs coordinated by Active and Safe Routes to School Peterborough to promote the use of active and sustainable transportation for the daily trip to school, addressing health and traffic safety issues while taking action on air pollution and climate change.

For many children and their families, using public transit can be a part of the solution.

While participating in this program, the students learned more about the impact our travel decisions can have on the environment, and about how they can support positive action. When talking about how to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, one student suggested, “The bus is like a huge carpool!”

They were surprised to realize that riding public transit has other health benefits, too. Taking transit positively contributes to the amount of physical activity a person can get each day. According to a study by the University of British Columbia, public transit users are three times more likely to meet daily physical activity requirements then those not using public transit.

And when we meet our daily physical activity requirements, it not only helps to improve our physical health by reducing the risk of chronic disease but also contributes to improved mental health.

Another benefit of riding public transit is the increased community connection. Even on our short trip, the students observed that they learned a lot about their city. You can sit back, relax, and look out the window rather than experiencing the stress that may come with driving on busy roads.

While our students don’t worry about driving, they did recognize that public transit allows them to ride with friends and meet new people.

For many people in our community, public transit is the best or only option. It is commonly used at various stages of life — from students travelling to school or work, to commuters trying to balance family transportation needs, or an aging population working to reach essential health care services. So, whether you are using public transit out of necessity or choosing to use public transit for health, environmental, or social reasons, it’s important that people feel comfortable and confident while travelling.

That’s where Active and Safe Routes to School Peterborough and Peterborough Transit can help. Teaching kids and youth how to use public transit builds confidence and independence, and helps them to feel more comfortable choosing public transit when they are travelling around our community in the future.

We have three transit-focused programs to educate and encourage youth in Peterborough.

On The Bus, the program described above, is an introduction to our public transit system for grade three students.

Grade 8 Transit Quest encourages grade eight students to use Peterborough Transit during March Break by providing them with a free bus pass for the week. By increasing comfort levels at this age, transit can become a mode of transportation that is both normalized and accessible.

And, new this spring, Active and Safe Routes to School Peterborough is introducing a pilot program called Student Trip by Transit that will support teachers who are interested in using Peterborough Transit for class trips within the city of Peterborough. The educational experience can go beyond the destination by making the journey educational, too.

Based on the reactions of my grade three riders, it is clear that the journey can be just as much fun as the destination. So, grab a Peterborough Transit Map & Schedule and plan out your own trip around town. An $8 day pass can get a family of up to two adults and four children on and off the bus all day.

If you are unsure of what to do on Peterborough Transit, check out the New To Transit webpage and the How to Ride Peterborough Transit video.

VIDEO: How to Ride Peterborough Transit

For Peterborough Transit route and schedule information and online resources, visit peterborough.ca/transit. If you want to know more about Active and Safe Routes to School Peterborough programs, visit peterboroughmoves.com.

Active and Safe Routes to School Peterborough is a partnership of GreenUP, the City of Peterborough, Peterborough Public Health, Student Transportation Services of Central Ontario, the Crossing Guards of Peterborough, the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, and the Peterborough Community Police.

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For more than 20 years, GreenUP has been central and eastern Ontario's leading organization focused on issues of environmental education, sustainability, and stewardship. GreenUP is a non-profit charity and an active community organization that offers dozens of programs and services to those living in the Peterborough & Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario. GreenUP's programs focus on facilitating positive action and provide the tools to make small changes in the home or cottage that can create a large and lasting impact on our environment. You can follow GreenUP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.