While I was on maternity leave with my little guy we took ETS (Edmonton Transit System) almost every day to get around town. He made his first LRT trip at 1 week old and never looked back!
Even if you usually drive places, sometimes it's easier or quicker to park the car and catch a train or a bus to your destination. This is especially true if you're headed downtown or to a busy event at the Coliseum or Stadium. Taking transit with your baby also gives you the added benefit of being able to give them your full attention en route, rather than worrying about watching the road while you drive.
Many people complain about Edmonton’s transit system but we don’t find it bad at all and manage quite well. Here are some tips we use to make our trips go smoother...
1. Plan ahead
I’m a big fan of using Google Maps for transit directions. I always check it before leaving the house to figure out the most convenient route to my destination. Since I have a smartphone, I can also use Google Maps while I’m out and about which allows for a bit more spontaneity. If you don’t have access to a smartphone you can always dial 311 and be connected to a city employee who will help you plan a route.
2. Practice your stroller handling skills, or try babywearing instead
I LOVE my Chariot Cougar stroller. I use it almost every day so I have become a pro at maneuvering it through narrow bus aisles and can have it parked in a designated area with the brakes on in no time flat. However, sometimes it can be a bit too much of a hassle on crowded buses and trains – especially if the two wheelchair/stroller places on a bus are already full! If I know in advance that I’m going to have to take a really busy bus or train I will opt to wear my son in our ergo carrier instead. I sometimes also make use of my umbrella stroller, which has a significantly smaller footprint than the Chariot.
3. The fastest route is not always the easiest route
When planning your trip consider that transfers take a little longer to make with a baby in tow, and it’s a lot harder to cram onto a crowded bus when you are pushing a stroller. Sometimes I will take a longer trip with fewer transfers just to avoid having to get my stroller on and off too many buses and trains. And if I find myself needing to get somewhere during rush hour I will try to pick the least busy route, even if it’s not necessarily the quickest. For example, I never bring my stroller onto an LRT train headed out of downtown during peak afternoon rush! It’s just not worth the hassle. Instead, I’ll opt to take a bus that goes to the same destination. It may take a bit longer, but will be a lot less stressful.
4. Don’t be afraid to make people move for you
I am continually amazed at how rude some people can be. I frequently have to pointedly ask some young able-bodied person to move out of the designated area so I can park my stroller, even though they saw me coming a mile away! Some bus drivers are very helpful in asking folks to move for you, but others are no help at all, so be prepared to advocate for yourself.
Have you taken transit with your children? What has your experience been like? Let us know in the comments!
photo by germanyengland