TriMet Trekkers: our newest, youngest commuters
Our kids' public charter school is in central Portland, drawing students from all quadrants of the city. Part of its charter is to be located in that part of the city to be accessible to transit lines. Families commute to school using a variety of transportation options: personal vehicle, carpools, bike, foot, bus, train.
Our school was one of 25 schools nationwide to be awarded a mini-grant from the National Center for Safe Routes to School. Our $1,000 award would be used toward safety gear (reflective vests or blinky lights or first aid kids for groups of families walking or biking to school). But, a large portion of our grant would fund - what we coined - the "TriMet Trekkers".
The intent would be to gather children in convenient clusters, who lived near one another, and have one adult chaperon a group of children on the bus or train together. Our grant would pay for the transit tickets for the adult leader and any children in the group. The idea was similar to "bike trains" or a walking school bus: traveling in groups can be safer and funner.
We launched our TriMet Trekker groups a couple of months ago, and my husband leads the one from our neighborhood. Every Friday morning, at a specified intersection at a specified time, there are usually 7 children that he corals onto the bus, off the bus, and walks in to school. Parents love being able to walk/drop off their kids down the street; the kids love being able to ride the bus to school with friends. It's a small thing, but I love that there are 7 less mamas & papas having to drive their kids into school. I love that the kids all clump in the back of the bus and chatter about schoolmates. I love that the kids become confident getting on the bus and walking four blocks to their school.