'Bus Buddies' program eases Calgary Transit concerns for CBE parents
Students at Senator Patrick Burns will use the buddy system to travel to and from school on Calgary Transit
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A community-based 'Bus Buddies' initiative has the students and parents of Senator Patrick Burns School feeling at ease about the switch from a yellow bus to Calgary Transit this school year.
Last spring parents from SPB learned—like many other Calgary Board of Education alternative programs— that students attending their Spanish bilingual program would no longer have yellow bus service and would be using Calgary Transit instead.
Gregory Marlin, a member of the parent council with two sons at SPB, said following the announcement they held a meeting and brainstormed how they could get their kids to and from school safely.
“There was a carpooling idea, we thought about renting our own bus and driving to and from the community, and then this solution was one of the more popular ideas—just starting a buddy system and using transit,” he said.
On Thursday, the kids from SPB who will be using Calgary Transit to get to and from school put their new plan into action.
Students met at a muster point in each of their communities and then took transit to school together in small groups, and at the end of the day they'll gather again before heading home.
Twins Madison and Jack Levy will be attending Grade 6 this year at SPB and said the thing they were most surprised about when using transit to get to school was the speed.
“It was fast,” said Jack. “It was surprisingly fast.”
The pair said they weren’t nervous about using transit because of the new plan.
“We have a buddy system, so there's always someone with you. So, you feel pretty safe—plus you’re with everyone else from your school,” said Madison.
Marlene Krickhan, the principal of SPB, met with all the kids at the test run on Thursday where they went through a few exercises and questions about using public transit.
“We had discussion questions at each table by neighbourhood and at the end we gathered everyone and talked about tips and suggestions the whole group should know about,” she said.
Krickhan said she also took time to speak with the students about public image and being stewards of SPB, and about how as transit riders they will see and experience things they may not have on the yellow bus.
“So they know they have to take care of each other,” she said.
The kids also discussed things like exchanging contact information, informing their buddy when they won’t be there and what to do if they miss their bus or train.
Nancy Partlow, mother of Madison and Jack, said she was happy to see how all the kids responded what some consider a challenge.
“I think it’s great, it’s an enrichment experience for them and a step towards them being more independent,” she said. “They seemed like they loved it and it was very safe.”
The school also held an information session where Calgary Transit was able to answer questions and provide route information.