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June 24, 2012

Public Transportation

Independence Requires Mobility


What it is


A reliable, simple, and safe way to get around town, i.e., bus, train, subway, etc.

Why it's Important

As kids mature, the time at which you turn over independence gradually gets earlier and earlier in the day. At age 5, you passed it over with your kiss at the kindergarten door.

The Problem

The leap to independent mobility is tough. Families living outside major cities usually assume that kids are limited to a bicycle until about age 17, but if you wait until then your child misses the opportunity to safely practice this degree of independence.

 The Tip

Take the "real" bus to camp

Consider this tip only if your intuition says the time is right for your child to experiment with this degree of independence.

Step 1


Search the Internet for “plan a trip on public transportation.” Google Transit is excellent and you’ll also find city specific sites.  Psst:  The camp bus doesn't count.


Step 2


Plan least 2 alternatives for on-time arrival, i.e., departure time or location, route, or mode, i.e., bus vs. subway.

Step 3


Check with the camp director to ensure their willing to support this. Assuming they are, let’s move on to step 4.


Step 4

4 Sets

Collect 4 sets of maps, timetables, and rider tips.

  1. Child’s backpack
  2. Your purse
  3. Camp director
  4. Posted to the fridge

Step 5


Ask your child. Choice is an essential ingredient for ownership. Ask her to consider taking public transportation to camp. Let her know that you’ll practice with her and reassure her that you have confidence in her ability to handle the greater responsibility. 


Your child may initially love the idea and then second-guess herself. Make sure you’re ready to support fluctuations in confidence and her inevitable mistakes before extending the invitation.


Step 6


Make at least 1 practice run together. Simulate the actual journey, i.e., time of day, back pack, clothes worn, etc.

Step 7

Back Up

Step back farther by following the bus in your car until she’s ready to go solo.

Step 8


Notify the camp director that your child is ready to start using public transportation and provide a set of the documents along with instructions to call you should your child need support.

Step 9

Let Go

When your child says he’s ready, let it happen. Yikes! Breath and relax, he’s prepared and will be okay. Acknowledge your nerves. Be clear that your nervousness is normal parent anxiety and has little to do with your confidence in his readiness.


Trouble letting go? This transition is just like letting go at the kindergarten door. Maybe you weren’t ready, but he was. Let him reassure you for a change or wait to let go until you feel better.


Step 10


Celebrate! No matter what happens. All of your child’s steps into young adulthood deserve congratulations.



Safe Practice

Early mistakes are easily corrected and something to laugh about vs. potentially tragic.
More Options She can sign up for programs that you might otherwise have been unable to support and you’ll have options for her transportation should a conflict arise in your schedule.
Partnership An accepted invitation makes you partners in the success of the arrangement.
Influence2 This loud and proud statement of confidence and trust demonstrates your faith and recognizes his greatness. It’s an exponential boost to the power of your influence.

Look below for links to helpful websites regarding public transportation.


Related Articles: Tip First, Take 2 Aspirins,

Related Tip of the Week: Influence Backfires, Recognize Perfection, Know-It-All, Trust,


The Wheels on the Bus

Transportation Resources

Public Transportation Tips and Information:

Public Transportation City Specific Trip Planning

United States

New York City    New Jersey    San Francisco Bay Area

Southern California    Portland, OR    Chicago, IL

Phoenix, AZ    Boston, MA    Central Florida

St. Louis, MO    Carolinas    Pennsylvania

Denver, CO    Honolulu, HI    Savannah, GA


The United Kingdom     Australia

Toronto, Canada     Stockholm


Chime in >> What do you think?

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