Saturday, May 31, 2014

Long Range Bus Planning

Back in March, LO's preschool class took a field trip to the Lafayette City Bus Depot. Not only did the kids get to ride in a city bus, but they also went in the "wash down" (that is, the bus wash), and they received a cardboard piggy bank shaped like a city bus.

LO has been talking about that field trip fairly consistently ever since.

Each time he sees a bus out in traffic, he is thrilled to point it out to me. He loves singing The Wheels on the Bus (even if he does sometimes forget the all-important final N sound for the word horn). It's only recently that he stopped carrying his city bus bank with him everywhere he went.

One of my favorite things about his bus enthusiasm is his insistence on always calling the city bus the city bus and the school bus the school bus. He wants to be sure that we know exactly which bus he is referring to.

Last Tuesday was LO's last day at preschool, meaning he will no longer be taking the school bus twice a week. I have been thinking about how disappointing that will be for him--when it occurred to me that he could still take the bus this summer. Why not start doing some LO-and-Mommy jaunts around town via city bus?

Theoretically, I am a big believer in public transportation. It's good for the environment and financially smart. And anytime I have been in a city with some sort of metro line, I've certainly taken full advantage of it.

But buses intimidate me.

Subways follow set tracks. Buses could take detours.

If a subway train arrives at the platform and you get excited and get on without checking to see if it's the right one (not that I've done that...many many times), then you can simply go one stop up the line and turn around. Get over-excited when the wrong bus arrives, and it's *much* more complicated.

If you're an irregular rider, you pay your subway fare in a lobby-type environment without feeling rushed. You have to pay a bus driver directly, while regular commuters could be lining up behind you getting frustrated at the newbie.

Bottom line, I've always preferred walking or driving (or simply not going at all) if the alternative is taking a bus.

But LO loves buses, and I want to give him some lovely experiences/memories with his mom. So, I've spent a ridiculously long time on the City Bus website to plan out a trip from our house to the local mall tomorrow, where LO and I will have lunch, buy a baby gift for a friend, and play on the indoor playground. The mall is on the 4A line from our house, so we will not have to transfer buses, and it will be an opportunity for LO and me to have some precious one-on-one time.

Enjoying time with him is not the only reason I'm doing this. If LO and I regularly take the bus for special days out, he will grow up feeling comfortable, competent, and confident about taking buses. It will make it possible for him to master the city bus as an older child and capably get himself around town. It will mean he'll be comfortable navigating the cities he visits. And once you have a taste of such competency and independence, there's no stopping you.

Not to mention, if LO can get himself to scouts, karate, piano lessons, and the like in the future, that will be a win for everyone.

However, as much as I am doing this for LO, I'm discovering a wonderful side effect for myself: planning this minor bus trip is making me feel competent and confident.

Apparently, you're never too old to experience the joy of mastering something outside of your comfort zone.


  1. Sounds like two generations going Free-Range at once!

  2. During the March parent-teacher conferences, I took my great-nephews for two half-days. On the second day I didn't have the use of a car so we had to take the bus. The boys are 7 and 12 but still fairly intrigued by public transit because they hardly ever take it. Each one wanted to put his OWN money in, thank you, but for some reason they didn't fight over pulling the cord to announce our stop; in fact, the younger one got suddenly shy and didn't want to do it. Go figure.
    I may do a bus adventure later this summer, wherein we take the bus from my house to the movies or the museum. Like you, I want them to think of public transit as something they can (and should) use.