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Kids ride free for International Walk to School Week, Oct 3-7, 2011

International walk to school week!

International Walk to School Week!

If you’re an elementary or secondary school student, there’s really no better time to get to know the transit system in Metro Vancouver than the week of October 3-7. That’s because this week is International Walk to School Week (iWalk), and children in kindergarden through Grade 12 ride for free (high school kids need a valid GoCard to ride free while kindergarden and elementary school kids don’t)!

Last year, over 40 countries were involved in iWalk. TransLink has been part of the movement since 2007.

The idea behind the week is to build a strong sense of community by encouraging kids to walk to school and to get to know their transit systems. It’s also about finding alternatives to private automobiles.

Schools and teachers have taken advantage of iWalk in the past to get out of the classroom and take their students on field trips using the transit.

Have you are your child participated in iWalk before? If so, please do share any tips that you may have that can make the week go smoothly.

If you’re a teacher and want to take your class on transit, here are a few helpful tips to make the most of your journey:

  • Take your classes during “off-peak” hours between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
  • Use TransLink’s online resources like m.translink.ca to plan your trip. No one wants to get lost on a field trip day!
  • Find out if other teachers in your school are planning trips at the same time and what route(s) they plan to take.

So, there you have it. Enjoy your free rides on the systems, kids! It makes me wish I was a kid again.


30 Comments

  • By AP, September 30, 2011 @ 11:16 pm

    I think it’s great that walk to school week provides other non-automobile options besides walking. Some kids (especially high school students), because for some of us, it is too far to walk to school. It would take over 30 minutes to walk to my school from my house.

    Taking transit field trips is a good idea as well! In grade 6, my class went to science world on the skytrain and one the way back, we were planning on taking the millennium line, but we got on the expo line! I realized this, so told the teacher that we got on the wrong train and we had to transfer!

  • By Anon, October 1, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

    What if we are in Gr 8 and we haven’t gotten our Go Cards yet?

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, October 3, 2011 @ 8:37 am

    AP: It’s great that you figured out you were on the wrong train. I remember doing that once :). Did you go to Science World recently? I haven’t been since it’s been newly renovated, but I’m curious about the improvements.

    Anon: If you’re in Grade 8 you’ll need to pickup a Go Card to use transit for free. Here’s a bit of info on how to do that: A GoCard can be issued immediately at one of the following locations. You must pay a fee of $11.00, and you must have a GoCard application form (available at school offices) signed by a school official along with proof of age (birth certificate, passport or CareCard).

    Artona Group Inc.
    353 West 7th Avenue, Vancouver
    Phone: 604.872.7272
    Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Appointments are recommended

    Mountain West Studios
    6869 Merritt Avenue, Burnaby
    Phone: 604.433.0551
    Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    Appointments are recommended

    More info here – http://www.translink.ca/en/Fares-and-Passes/Student-Passes/GoCard.aspx

  • By Donna (CMBC), October 3, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

    Robert & Anon: Grade 8 students might not actually have their GoCards just yet. Leeway is given for kids in grade 8 until the end of October due to delays in getting them from their schools. The previous years pass is still valid for grade 9-11.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, October 3, 2011 @ 3:09 pm

    Thanks for the update Donna!

  • By zack, October 3, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

    Off topic: I noticed something strange on the Expo Line recently. Whenever I’m on the train departing eastbound from Royal Oak station, the train always moves sluggishly before resuming its normal speed. Has there been any work of some sort that I was not aware of?

  • By JKKT, October 3, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

    I hope the WCE is excluded from the “free rides on the systems” as if a teacher decided to take their kids on it, it would overload the train, and annoy the sleepers. :)

  • By Erica, October 3, 2011 @ 10:15 pm

    Wait, so only grades 9-11 can use their previous year pass? what about grade 12’s?

  • By DM, October 4, 2011 @ 2:03 am

    This morning my grade six class has ambitiously planned a trip to UBC from Port Coquitlam using bus and sky train. The trip requires us to depart at 7AM, but I think that the students are still actually excited about the adventure.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, October 4, 2011 @ 9:57 am

    Erica: I’ll have an answer for you shortly!

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, October 4, 2011 @ 10:20 am

    Hello encore Erica: So, if a child is in grade 12 this year, they can use their GoCard from last year (when they were in grade 11) to ride for free. If there is some sort of extenuating problem that a particular grade 12 student is having, bus operators are usually very understanding in these situations.

    Zack: I haven’t heard of any any work being done on the Expo line at this particular section of the track, but I’m awaiting the official word on that and will let you know when I hear back.

    JKKT: West Coast Express is included as part of iWalk. I’ve been told that in the past we haven’t had any problems with kids and teachers overloading the trains since using the WCE leaves very early in the morning and often teachers don’t want to take the kids on a field trip for the entire day.

    DM: I hope your class has a fantastic time on the system. I’d love to hear how it went!

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, October 4, 2011 @ 10:30 am

    Zack: So, it turns out there were some repairs going on around Royal Oak (you’re very observant). The repairs started last week and ended yesterday. If you’re on the system today, you should notice that the train has returned to regular speed.

    Thanks for the question!

  • By Sean (CMBC), October 4, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

    It’s been my experience that many kids don’t even know about the offer for FREE transit this week… I think I may have had 3 kids in total today that only showed their Go Cards… All the rest either have passes or tickets…

    I did have one young lady still using a year old Fast Trax sticker with a one zone monthly pass. I explained to her that drivers have been instructed that the Fast Trax program ended Aug 31, and that all post secondary students now should be using the expanded U-Pass… Since Sept 1…

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, October 4, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

    Hi Sean: That’s good to know. I think next year we’ll have to get the word out to schools more to let them know about iWalk.

  • By Helenne, October 4, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

    Imagine my dismay when my 14 year old daughter went on the bus on Monday and Tuesday mornings and had to pay!! The bus driver made her pay even though it was supposed to be free for students this week. Did she have her Go Card? Yes. I phoned Translink and put in a complaint and this very nice gentleman gave me the suggestion of printing off the info page. Very disappointing though to have to complain about something that Translink is supposedly supporting!!!

  • By Philip, October 4, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

    So it’s free for the school people all day? Or only from 9-2:30?

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, October 4, 2011 @ 9:10 pm

    Helenne: I believe schools are informed of what TransLink is offering during iWalk. However, I’ll look into how school and kids in Metro Vancouver can be better informed next year.

    Philip: You are correct. Elementary school kids ride for free and high school kids ride free with a valid GoCard (or last years GoCard if you haven’t received one yet). We suggest riding the system between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. because these are less busy times to travel.

  • By Catherine, October 5, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

    Hi Robert! I think Helenne’s complaint is that bus drivers/transit employees were not aware of iWalk. Do our kids need to bring proof with them that it is free for them this week?

  • By Philip, October 5, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

    It’s a bit funny, now that I think about it. Teachers in Vancouver are currently unable to take the children on field trips due to the VSB contract thingamabob, and Friday will be a district closure. Oh well! :3

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, October 6, 2011 @ 7:17 am

    Catherine & Helenne: I’ve put a call into CMBC. I let you know when I hear back. I would think that mentioning iWalk to the bus operator would suffice, but to make sure of these last couple of days it’s not a bad idea to print off – http://tinyurl.com/66zlyyz and give to kids to make sure they ride for free.

    Philip: I was thinking the same thing yesterday. It is unfortunate that many teachers can’t take their kids on field trips let alone take transit to do so. It is good that kids can take for free themselves.

  • By Miera, October 6, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

    Does this event include skytrains or just buses?

  • By Catherine, October 6, 2011 @ 4:38 pm

    Thanks for the info. Robert. Your link to print off doesn’t work.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, October 6, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

    Miera: Yes, kids can ride for free today and tomorrow on buses, SeaBus, SkyTrain and West Coast Express.

    Catherine: The link should work. Here it is in long form – http://www.translink.ca/en/About-Us/Media/2011/September/Kids-Ride-Free-October-3-to-7.aspx. The easiest way to print it is to copy the press release into a document (like Word) and then print that page. You could also take a screen capture of the page and paste it into a document. Let me know if that works. I can always e-mail you a document if you like.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, October 6, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

    Catherine: My printing instructions above can be used if the print button to the right of the press release doesn’t work for some reason. :)

  • By Catherine, October 6, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

    Thanks Robert! The 2nd link worked perfectly. I just clicked on the print button to the right and away it went!

  • By Karen, October 8, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

    I an extremely dissapoineted in the communication between Transit Police and Translink. My daughter received a ticket for being in a fare paid zone of Skytrain yesterday without a ticket. She know it was iwalk week and didn’t need to purchase a ticket because of the promotion. When she was stopped by Transit Police, she told the officer she would buy a ticket. The officer said it was too late. My 17 year old is now stuck with a $173.00 ticket for fare evasion, because the Transit officer had no understanding of the iwalk week. How sad for our city and translink trying to promote use of public transit and then penalizing the riders you are trying to convince.Is there anyway of getting this ticket revoked without having to dispute it?

  • By Sean (CMBC), October 14, 2011 @ 5:00 am

    Karen, If your 17 year old daughter is still in High School, AND has a valid high school Go Card, she should not have been issued a ticket…
    If that is in fact the case, Call Translink customer service as 604-953-3040, OR transit police and get to the bottum of this issue…
    If she does not have a valid Go Card, or is finished high school, she does not qualify for the FREE transit week…
    At least, that’s how I understand the event as it was posted to transit drivers…

  • By Karen Gillespie, May 30, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

    Does anyone know the dates of the International Walk to School Week for 2012? Thanks.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, June 1, 2012 @ 9:22 am

    Karen: Typically it’s first week of October.

  • By Karen Gillespie, June 2, 2012 @ 1:57 am

    Ok, thanks!

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