Becoming Independent: From School Bus to City Bus

Many of us grow up riding the school bus, but when it comes to riding a city bus, there are a few adjustments to make. Here are some tips:

Planning the Bus Trip: Know How to Read a Bus Schedule

  1. Check out the routes. Study them to understand where they go.There may be a search feature that helps you identify the best way to get from point A to point B, depending on your location. Call the bus company for help if you are unsure.
  2. Bus schedules will usually have two charts showing northbound/southbound or eastbound/westbound. Figure out which direction you want to go and use the right chart.
  3. When checking out the routes, include the return trip. It’s no fun getting stranded and not having a ride home. if in doubt, call the bus company.
  4. Bus schedules may change every few months or so. The bus stops can also change. If you don’t go often, check for updates.
  5. Check the bus fare and be sure to have either a bus pass or exact change. If you buy a bus pass, you will probably get a better price per trip.
  6. If you take food on the bus, keep it wrapped up. Do not plan on eating on the bus. If you take something to drink, it should have a cap on it so that it cannot spill.
  7. Put the bus company’s phone number in your phone and in your wallet in case you get lost or confused and need help on the trip.

At the Bus Stop: Social Skills, Being Ready, Safety

  1. Be at the bus stop at least 5 minutes early. Be sure you are on the right side of the road, at the right stop. Ask others if you are not sure.
  2. If you sit on a bench, don’t take up all the space. If you see someone who looks like they need to sit, stand and let them sit down.
  3. Check your wallet and get out your bus fare or bus pass. You don’t want to keep other riders waiting in line while you’re looking for it. Keep your wallet in your hands; do not set it down on a bench. Keep track of all of your belongings while you get out your money.
  4. Have exact change. If you don’t have exact change, you will likely get a slip of paper with a credit on it instead of getting change back.

Getting on the Bus: Communication, Social Skills

  1. You have your bus pass or money ready. The driver will help you pay if needed.
  2. Tell the driver where you are going and ask if this is the right bus.
  3. If you need to get off the bus between regular stops, figure out where the pull cord is. Ask the driver before you sit down.
  4. Find a seat quickly. You might have to sit next to someone if the bus is full. Leave the front seats empty for elderly people or for people who have trouble walking.

The Bus Trip: Social Skills, Watch for the Stop

  1. As you sit down, take up one seat. Put your belongings on your lap or on the floor. Leave room next to you for another passenger. As the bus makes more stops and more people get on the bus, they may need to sit next to you.
  2. If you listen to music, use earphones. If the driver is going to help you remember when to get off the bus, use one earphone so that you can hear the driver talk.
  3. Talk quietly.
  4. Do not eat on the bus.
  5. Look for a sign or poster on the bus with rules. Study them.
  6. Watch carefully for your stop. If you are getting off between stops, pull the cord just before you get to that spot to tell the driver to stop.

Getting Off the Bus: Think Ahead, Ask for Help If Needed

  1. Have your things gathered up and put away before the bus stops. The driver and other passengers do not want to wait for you to put away your earplugs, put on your jacket, and so on. Be ready to stand as soon as the bus stops. If they have to wait, it may throw off their schedule.
  2. If you find that you have missed your stop or that you got off on the wrong stop, ask for help. No worries: It happens to a lot of people. if you missed your stop, you will need to catch a bus going the other direction back to where you want to be. You might be able to walk if it’s not far. There are several people you can ask for help: You can ask the driver, call the bus company, or ask other bus company personnel that you see in the area. It’s best to ask someone with the bus company. You should also call someone you know to let them know where you are, especially if you are going to run late.

Return Trip: Save Money for Bus Fare, Be on Time

  1. If you are using cash for the return trip, put it in a separate pocket or spot in your wallet to be sure that you do not spend it.
  2. Check the return time and set a reminder on your phone for the time to start heading over to the bus stop. If you set the reminder for the actual time the bus is arriving, you could end up late. The bus will not wait for you, so leave early to be at the bus on time.

Whew, there is a lot to remember when using public transportation. With practice, it gets easier. If you take the same trip, you will probably get to know a few of the drivers and they will look out for you. What are other tips you’ve found to be useful?

(c) 2013 Smart Steps(R) LLC