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Celebrate Earth Day and Reduce Carbon Emissions With Your Kids On…the Bus?!

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So want to celebrate Earth Day with your kids in a fun, interesting, cheap way that might just save the planet? 
Well, let’s head on over to the bus stop…
One person switching to public transit for just one day can reduce daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds – over a year that’s more than 4,800 pounds.  It also improves Denver’s bad smog.  Even just a couple of trips on the bus can make a big difference to our town and our planet.  
What’s more, we’re lucky enough to live in a great town for public transportation.  Metro Denver’s RTD system covers Boulder, Broomfield, Denver and Jefferson Counties, as well as parts of Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas and Weld Counties.  It offers many ways to get round, including buses and the expanding light rail system (or, as my son calls it, the white choo choo).  I’ve found RTD to be reliable, convenient, and really useful.  Why not use Earth Day as an opportunity to check it out?  
Why ride the bus with your kids? 
1. They’re free up until 5! Kids over 5 are half-price.  All a bargain.

2. Kids love the bus.  I am sure there is some kid who hates the bus.  I have not met him.  Most kids love buses – for good reason.  Kids get to sit or stand just like adults, they get to interact with other people, and they get to pull the string for the next stop (this is a big deal). The light rail is even more exciting — A TRAIN!  A transit trip can be half the adventure.

3. Denver transit is kid-friendly.  You can roll your strollers onto the light rail and even on buses if there is room (you’ll have to fold them if the bus gets crowded).  More personally, I’ve found Denver bus drivers and passengers to be kind and helpful when I was dealing with an uncooperative folding stroller, a lost hat, a cranky baby, or even just a chatty toddler who wants to interrogate them.

4. It sets a great example for your kids – and it’s a great way to start a conversation about environmental issues.  

5. It’s easy.  Especially if you haven’t ridden a bus in a while, you’ll be happily surprised at how easy it is now to figure out where and when to catch the bus and light rail.  Just go to Google Maps, put in your start and destination, and click on the picture of the bus.  It’s integrated with RTD’s schedules, so it will tell you where the bus or light –rail stop is, when to catch it, and when you’ll get there.  You can also use RTD’s trip planner.

Another good tool is RTD’s MyStop.  Every RTD bus stop now has a number on it – and if you call 303-299-6000 (press 1, then 1 again for a schedule in English) and type that bus stop number in, it will tell you the next 3 times the bus you want comes to that stop.  (Or, if you’ve got a web browser, you can use RTD’s nifty mobile site’s MyStop feature).  No more waiting with that anxious pit in your stomach, not knowing when the bus will show up.  I keep the bus stop numbers in my phone so I can call from other places and time my departure.  

Of course, they still have the paper schedules at libraries on the RTD website. 
Now that you know where and when to take that bus, other things that have worked for me when riding with kids – 
• Set expectations – make sure your kids know they may have to wait. 
• Snacks at the bus stop are nice because they pass the time and there is no eating on the bus. 
• If you’ve got a little one, consider wearing your baby instead of a stroller – tackling stairs and getting on buses is a lot easier.  
 
Happy Earth Day and happy riding!!! 

When she is not riding buses with her son, Meg Parish is a public-interest environmental lawyer.  She lives in Denver. 

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson April 13, 2011

    I’ll admit it: I’ve never ridden the bus with my kids in Denver. Honestly, I’ve never considered it much of a public transportation place but your post has made me reconsider that!

  • comment avatar Jaime Swartzendruber April 13, 2011

    I didn’t know the reduced kids’ prices – thanks for that info! We love the lightrail but usually drive in…the kids enjoy the 16th Street Mall bus!

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