Back in January 2019, I came across a story from News4 WOAI reporting about VIA’s new child policy that when I read it, I didn’t really think nothing of it. Fast forward to February 20, 2019 and I came across this blog post Named “Transit 101: How to Read a Bus Schedule.” Then it hit me; VIA’s ban is going to create a generation of people who by the time they’re out and on their own aren’t really going to use the bus.
It’s not just a New Urbanist movement, but there’s a growing number of people who want to have their kids to gain a sense of independence. The media calls them Free Range Kids, as if being able to walk around your neighborhood, young and unattended is a sign of a horrible parent.
When I first moved to San Antonio, I lived with my step dad parents on Weir so my mother enrolled us at Winston Elementary on General McMullen right next to back then, base housing. By March of the school year we moved out of my step dad’s parents house and moved up to a apartment near St Cloud and Babcock. Instead of dragging us out of school, my mom put us on the 524 every morning alone to go to school. That was back in 1989 and I was in 1st grade.
By age 10, I was taking the bus on my own. I remember when I went to go grocery shopping for the first time alone when I was 11 years old. My mom gave me $10 and sent me to the Krogers at West Ave and Lockhill Selma. As my family moved from one side of town to the other, we didn’t own a car and sometimes. During the summer, nobody was taking me to the pool, so I hopped on the VIA bus to San Pedro park which even today is still my favorite public pool. I was 11 yrs old for 3 years, at least to the bus driver. By that time, age 14, reading a bus schedule was second nature as was cheating on bus fare, and counterfeiting transfers.
Today, I’m a long haul truck driver and apparently I’m the only one in the company that I drive for that has seen Niagara Falls twice let alone visited the falls for the nearest truck stop is in Buffalo. Unlike others who drive, when I’m stuck in a place having to recharge my hours of service or the truck simply being in the shop. I’m not whining and complaining at the truck stop, I’m out on the town, riding my bicycle, taking the bus or the train to go see the world. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I wasn’t able to ride the bus on my own by the time I was 10 years old.
Connect SA on the Source, (air date: Feb 22, 2019) said that 40 miles of protected bikeways are being planned. In the Netherlands, they teach kids how to get to school on their own by bicycle and transit. If we don’t get over our fears, a generation will come of age not having the knowledge on how to be on their own or to navigate a different landscape.
Teaching Children independence should be a no brainer in our society for allowing children to go out on their own happens everywhere else in the world accept in America. As our city becomes more denser, children are going to need to get around town and that can be done from either their parents car keeping our air quality in the dumps or it can happen from riding public transit. Thank you VIA for making sure our kids are afraid to take the bus when their adults and having to read this a silly article on the internet or watching a Howcast video on how to read a bus schedule.