If you are a teacher or a school travel professional trying to find ways to encourage children to travel by bus, check out these ideas.
12 Ways to Promote Bus Travel to Children
If your school is taking part in the Modeshift STARS School Travel Awards, these activities can count towards your Modeshift STARS accreditation (some specific actions are mentioned; for others use STARS action PT2 School promotes public transport).
1. Contact your local bus operator to see if they are taking part in Catch The Bus Week and what activities, promotions or competitions they are running that you can get involved in. STARS action: PT9 Catch the Bus Week.
2. Hold a ‘Design a Bus Card Holder’ competition. Get the winning entry printed onto travel card holders to give out to all participants. STARS action: PT5 School promotes young person’s travel.
3. Design an advert, or slogan for an advert, which promotes bus travel and could go on the back or side of a bus. Show your local bus operator may like to see your ideas – they could inspire an actual advertisement!
4. Show pupils how to find local bus times on the internet and how to read a bus timetable. This is not only teaches them a practical use for 24 hour times but is also good practice using keys and symbols. See the BBC Skillswise website bus timetable activity (for adults but suitable for older children too).
5. Map a route using a local timetable. Look at the full detail of the timetable which shows all the stops. Mark each stop on a print out of a map. Use the map’s key to work out the distance covered by the whole route. Next step is to actually travel the bus route, crossing off the stops as you go.
6. Create a ‘Bus treasure hunt’ where you have a tick list of or questions about local features pupils can look out for and answer when they travel a certain bus route.
7. Work with a team of pupils such as JRSOs, JTAs, your Eco committee or school council members to develop a set of rules for Bus Behaviour and to promote bus safety. This can be used for bus journeys to and from school or for bus travel within the school day.
8. Help a group of older pupils to prepare an assembly on ‘how to catch the bus’ incorporating bus behaviour rules and why it’s good to go by bus. They can act out mini ‘what to do -v- what not to do and why’ scenes. STARS action: PT3 School promotes responsible behaviour on public transport.
9. Get a class to prepare a survey about bus use, how often people use it and what people do and don’t like about the buses. They can then survey parents and teachers and then analyse and present the answers. Your local bus company may be interested in the results!
10. Include promoting bus travel in your school travel plan and your information about your school. For example on your website, does your ‘Directions’ information include details of nearest bus stop and route number?
11. Set up a ‘bus buddy’ scheme for new pupils starting secondary school. They are paired with older pupils from their neighbourhood to travel with if their journey to school is by public bus. This can make bus travel easier for new starters and encourages friendships between different year groups.
12. Take your pupils out on the bus. If you use public transport it makes pupils more comfortable and familier with it even if their own parents never take them on the bus. If they gain the confidence and knowledge they will be more likely to use the bus when out with friends. STARS action: PT1 Public transport used for school trips.