The Children’s Corner Preschool at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church offers young children the opportunity to experience a variety of activities through their program — riding an IndyGo bus is one of them. For 35 years, Cathy Johnson has guided groups of 4- and 5-year-old children to the bus stop on the corner of Kessler and Illinois to experience all the sights, sounds and complete experience of public transportation.
Last week was no exception. A gaggle of children and their instructors walked from the preschool to the edge of Friedmann Park. Nearly 40 children and six instructors waited in their rain boots for the IndyGo bus to appear at the bus stop on the west side of Kessler. When one child exclaimed “Here it is!” the group formed a straight line and were handed their “fare” of one quarter, which encompassed an entire palm of each of their hands. Each child took one giant step up to reach the bus, placed their fare in the fare box and walked to the back of the bus on the “glittery” floor.
The children rode on Route 28 from Kessler to Ohio and Pennsylvania to disembark for their big day downtown. After more than 10 verses of “Wheels on the Bus” the children were asked what they liked about riding. Being able to see out the windows and watching the back door open and close made the top three, in addition to the glittery floors. Everyone was excited to head downtown and by the time Ohio and Pennsylvania appeared in the window there were smiles and high-fives as the children exited the bus.
“This trip is the highlight of the year for my students,” say Johnson, a lead teacher at The Children’s Corner Preschool. “The children’s eyes light up and they are always excited to get on the bus and head downtown – it is such a complete experience for everyone.”
The moral to this story — removing public transportation anxiety at a young age will prepare children for riding both the school bus next year and riding public transportation for a lifetime. Parents can plan fieldtrips of their own and will have more time to talk with their children and see what they have to say; and save money while doing it!
“Introducing transit to a young audience creates a sense of independence and confidence in the youth of Indianapolis,” said Jessica Mitchell, communications manager for IndyGo. “In addition to creating an atmosphere of confidence and success for children, these children will hopefully grow into mature adults who feel comfortable and capable to utilize public transportation for their everyday lives.”
Up to two children age 5 and under ride for free with a paying passenger on IndyGo. Children ages 5 to 18 are eligible for the IndyGo Half Fare Program. A valid IndyGo Half Fare ID card can be obtained for $2 by completing the Half Fare ID card application, available online at IndyGo.net or at the Customer Service Center, located at 34 N. Delaware Street. Submit a completed application, along with the $2 to the IndyGo Customer Service Center.
The 2012 Summer Youth Pass is also available for children 18 and under, receiving unlimited bus rides on its fixed route service between June 1 and August 31 for only $30. Children get three months of unlimited rides for the price of one month. It's a great way to give youth the freedom to travel to Indy Parks, shopping malls, work and even summer school without having to rely on their parents. A valid student ID (K-12) or IndyGo Half Fare ID card must accompany pass when boarding the bus. Look for more information coming soon at IndyGo.net.