By Maureen McCarthy | WTA – 2020 Spring/Summer
“WTA’s friendly Travel Trainer works with people who are new to riding the bus and who are new to the area. We work with people of all ages and abilities.”WTA
If you’re like many people in Whatcom and Skagit Counties, you’ve ridden city buses during other periods of your life. Perhaps you have memories of riding the bus during your college years, or while living and working in a more urban area. Maybe you’ve enjoyed traveling by bus or train while vacationing in other parts of the country or other parts of the world. However, for many of your trips in and around Whatcom and Skagit Counties, you find yourself traveling most often by car.
Many people are happy making most of their trips by car, but may have some trips that are less desirable. Driving excursions on the freeway, through congested downtown areas, or during hours of darkness are times where a few people would love to leave the driving to someone else.
Others are thinking ahead to a time when driving might be less ideal based on changes in their physical or sensory abilities. And still others would like to save money or travel in a way that’s gentler on our natural environment.
How Does Travel Training Work?
“Okay!” you say. “How does one get started with riding a ‘fixed route’ or city bus?
Fortunately, both Skagit Transit and Whatcom Transportation Authority (WTA) have Travel Training programs. With Travel Training, you as a potential bus rider would work one-on-one with a Travel Trainer. You would learn how to plan bus trips to the places you would like to go. Also, you can learn to read and understand route maps and schedules, practice safety skills as a pedestrian and as a bus passenger. Learning how to purchase passes and pay your fares can quickly get you up and riding. With the Travel Training program, you learn to travel safely and with confidence.
Travel Training is free. And it’s for anyone who wants to learn to travel independently. Travel Trainers work with people who are new to riding the bus or new to the area. They work with people of all ages and abilities. While most travel training is one-on-one, Travel Trainers are also able to offer group orientation, for a group of friends who would like to learn more about the bus together.
WTA’s professional Travel Trainer Keven Peterson said, “An important thing to know about travel training is that it’s completely tailored to the individual. Some people might need only one session to learn to ride independently. We can do that. If they need multiple sessions, we’re happy to do that too.”
System Becomes Easier to Understand
Many people find that learning to ride the bus is easier and more fun than they imagined. And once they’ve mastered a route or two, the local transportation system becomes easier to use and understand. As an added bonus, it’s a terrific way to travel when entertaining grandchildren. For young kids, riding the bus is truly an adventure!