That's it, your children have grown up and now want to be able to go out without their parents. They dream of being able to go to the cinema or the shopping center alone with their friends, but you are still hesitant to say yes to them…
Worrying about your children is natural, but above all we must not let our fears invade us, at the risk of transmitting them unnecessarily to our offspring. I therefore decided to speak with Michel Robertson, bus driver at the STM, in order to gather his impressions on this subject and to reassure worried parents.
Here is “Michel's advice”
Tell me, do you see a lot of teenagers or tweens traveling alone on your buses? What is their average age?
On weekdays, mornings and evenings, I obviously see a lot of teenagers taking the bus to school and back home at the end of the day. On weekends, there are many families who take the opportunity to go out, and there are also many young people who go out with friends.
Difficult to establish an average age, because there is really everything! In general, I would say that Montrealers are accustomed to using public transport quite young. I even seeregularly children aged 5 or 6 take the bus alone to go to school on weekdays!
As a driver, you have certainly witnessed all kinds of situations. Do you think public transport is a safe place for our children?
Oh yes, absolutely, it's very safe! All drivers receive comprehensive training on how to react in the event of a problem. We are very well equipped, and our buses are all equipped with a GPS tracker and an emergency button. Once activated, one receives help from the police within about 30 seconds; it's really very effective.
Frankly, it's especially at night that the clientele is more special, let's say, and you have to be a little more careful. But then again, I've only had to use my emergency button three times in three years, so don't assume the worst either!
Are there any special safety measures in effect at the STM for young people traveling alone?
Not particularly, no. On the other hand, there is a policy for women that allows drivers to stop between two stops after dark, so it is quite possible to do the same for young people who request it!
I know that you are the father of two young children. Personally, at what age would you let your darlings take the bus and the metro alone?
Haha, that's a good question! I'm more of a daddy hen type, so even though I know it's safe, I believe thatI would wait until they were 8 or 9 years old! Of course, I would gradually get them used to it before that age by having them take the same routes often so that they could find each other easily.
In closing, what would you say to parents who are still worried about leaving their teens or tweens to take public transport alone?
That there is no reason to worry and that it is simply a question of getting our children used to it quietly. Public transport is really a matter of good manners in community, so the more they have been exposed to it, the more they will know how to behave and stay away from potential sources of danger. And above all, show them that the drivers are there for them and that they should never hesitate to go to them for help!
COVID-19 - REMEMBER THAT A MASK IS MANDATORY ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN QUEBEC.