CVK mom Christa Herrling is back here today talking about something she is most definitely an expert on – making excellent use of the Valley transit system. Avid bus riders, Christa and her tiny person clue us all in today on the nuances and benefits of leaving the car parked in the driveway and heading out for a public transit adventure.
So, without further delay, here she is:
Back in my teens, in spite of the constant willingness of my parents to pay for driving lessons and the promise that if I had my license the car could be mine for the weekends, I saw fit to depend on the kindness of rides from friends, the odd cab ride, and the Victoria transit system. I’m not sure why the urge to learn eluded me. I wasn’t really afraid of the process, and having my license would have come in handy about a billion times over the last twelve years. In the absence of my own wheels, I have spent much of my time as a non-driver (okay, all of my life) learning to appreciate the many benefits of using public transit.
As a mom, there is a whole new world of perks. There is something satisfyingly ‘green’ and sustainable about hopping on a bus, and this is a great lesson to impart to our kids. For the toddler crew, if the bus stops and lets off within reasonable walking distance for little feet, these guys love marching on board, depositing their change, and picking a seat. For the bigger kids, use of transit early on encourages a little independence and confidence in their ability to get around without your help when the time comes. Riding the bus also gives you an opportunity to slow down, sit with your kids, and not talk into the rear view mirror at them. It should also be noted that little people absolutely love a break from the car seat.
With a little planning and leaving yourself lots of time- yes it’s true the buses typically run hourly- you too can plan a driving-free family day trip. The best advice I can give is too always carry a transit schedule, a watch, and pre-counted fare in your pockets. On occasion we’ve missed a bus, and realized we are only a slight detour, a transfer, or a half hour spent in a coffee shop away from being home safe and sound.
*Top 3 Easy Transit Day Trips:
1.) The Filberg
This CVK favourite, complete with beautiful parkland and waterfront is currently home to roughly 35 lounging deer, seldom crowded and really just breathtaking on a sunny fall day. The park is easily accessible by transit. Take the #3 or #4 from downtown (Cliffe @ 4th). Both buses take about 20-25 minutes and let off about a block away. Afterward, you’re within easy walking distance- even for small feet- to downtown Comox for a hot chocolate, lunch, or a trip to the Comox Library or Bears & Balloons. The buses leave for downtown from either stop on Comox Ave (in front of the Comox Centre Mall or the Comox Library) every half hour or so.
2.) The Comox Valley Aquatic Centre
Leaving downtown on the #6, #3, or #11, the bus lets off right in front of the Aquatic Centre. After your swim, there is a covered bus stop a few minute’s walk away at North Island College, where the #4, #6, or #11 will pick you up heading back downtown.
3.) The Village of Cumberland
Okay, so maybe this is a really boring one if you already live in Cumberland, but this is a toddler favourite. Take the #2 bus from downtown (Cliffe @ 4th), or from Anfield Centre or Driftwood Mall. Cumberland is a great place for a wander along Dunsmuir, a long play at Cumberland Village Park’s large playground, or breakfast at Tarbell’s Coffee Bar. The #2 leaves Dunsmuir @ 4th every hour for the 23-minute trip back into downtown Courtenay.
After several months of weekly transit trips, we’ve become familiar with the bus drivers on our route, and they have become friendly faces in the community for our toddler.
I have learned to stealthily plan a bus trip to not one- but two- destinations before naptime, accomplishing a toddler activity as well as mundane errands along the way. My list of things to do still includes learning to drive, because as a stay-at-home mom it would definitely open up a world of exotic beach-type day trips for us (in my romantic little vision of licensed driving which excludes the mid-week Superstore run), but I hope to maintain the bus habit with my son as a means of connecting with our community and engaging him in a practical way to be kind to our environment.