What to Do in Edmonton with Kids

City and Baby is a blog for parents with an urge to get out of the house. We explore all that the Edmonton region has to offer families with kids six and younger. From unique events, fun activities, attractions, baby-friendly businesses to product must-haves, CityandBaby.com is your guide to savouring Edmonton with your little ones in tow.

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Baby on the bus: Taking your child on ETS

Edmonton Transit with kids

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

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Reader Comments (4)

My son loves our LRT adventures. We live out of the city, so we park and hop on the LRT to get to Rexall Place for many events. He enjoys the ride, and we love to searching for parking! Good people watching, too!
December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanis
I took transit with my son during maternity leave too. I agree with the carrier or umbrella stroller for easier travel on crowded buses. We still use the LRT and/or bus for trips to major events or to travel to the University Hospital. It's so much easier that parking and much cheaper too. My son loves taking transit and people watching.
December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeghan
A Mother's Day tradition is for my 3 1/2 yr old to go for a ride on the lrt...he thinks it is so great! We don't actually go any where just ride from one end to the other, enjoying the people watching and watching the buildings go by. His day care will often use transit to go on a field trip and every time he is more excited to tell me about the bus than the actual field trip
December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStacy
I'm mom to a 10.5 month old and have been an avid bus user since August 2009. As a new mom I find that I do tend to drive a lot more but for the odd trips downtown and to concert events, I find it more convenient to just leave the car at home. That way you don't have to worry about parking hassles. Did you know that Edmonton has the fourth highest parking rates in ALL of Canada - pretty crazy eh? Now for a mom on maternity leave, those parking fees do add up & quick!

I have taken my daughter on both the bus and the LRT train - she loved every bit of it. She likes to people watch and since someone else is doing the driving, I can relax and devote more of my attention to her. Win win in my books!

I just wanted to add that in preparing for your ETS trip, you can always use their handy Trip Planner too. http://etstripplanner.edmonton.ca/PlanYourTrip.aspx This handy tool allows you to input either a landmark, bus stop number, intersection or the address of your starting point & your destination. Once you have that information entered, it will ask for date, as well as either an "arrive by" or "depart by" This means that you can plan your trip days in advance! Being a busy mom, that is always a bonus.

While out and about - remember that you can get personalized text messages from ETS advising you of when the next scheduled bus will be arriving. Below is the link with instruction on how to use this. Pretty handy when you don't have a bus schedule handy. http://www.edmonton.ca/transportation/ets/transit_news/ets-text-messaging-service.aspx

We are lucky to be living in a city that has a fully accessible transit fleet. This means that your strollers can be taken on the bus/train, but when doing so parents need to be cognizant of the size limitations. Strollers which can be accommodated on the city's buses and trains should NOT exceed a maximum 20 inches wide by 48 inches long (51 cm wide and 122 cm long). Also note that priority seating is there for persons using mobility devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes... etc. And priority should be given to the person who is least mobile. So if a wheelchair bound rider boards the bus, you may be asked to fold up your stroller to make room.

I really like your suggestion of using the more compact umbrella stroller and/or wearing your baby.

December 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTuyet

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