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Free Workshops Help People with Disabilities Ride Public Transportation with Confidence

By Ed Madden, Coordinator for Public Outreach, Pace Suburban Bus

We are all aware of the necessities of life: air, water, food, sports. I’m joking about the sports, of course, but I think that we should add transportation to this list as well

Let’s face it, we all need to get from Point A to Point B on a regular basis. For many of us, this is relatively straightforward: We get into a car and drive off. But for many others, and for numerous reasons, this is not an option, or at least not one at all times.

So many of us may have to rely on others. Perhaps family or friends drive us where we need to go, or maybe public transportation is the answer. However, to many people, public transportation can seem complicated or intimidating if they haven’t used it much before.

To help, Pace Bus and JJ’s List have teamed together to offer “Hop on the Bus to Independence,” a bus acclimation workshop that teaches attendees the ins and outs of using fixed route buses.

This free 90-minute, 2-part program consists of a classroom portion that teaches attendees how to plan their trip before heading out of the house and an on-a-real-bus portion that offers experiential learning on how to ride the bus.

The first part of the program in the classroom covers online resources helpful to understanding public transportation in the Chicago region, including RTA, Pace, Metra, CTA, and Ventra.  Participants will also learn helpful vocabulary and how to plan trips using RTA’s trip planner and Google Maps.

The second part of the program is the on-the-bus training with a real Pace bus where participants learn firsthand how to wait at the bus stop, how to get on the bus, where to pay their fare, and all about seating and accessibility features. Probably most importantly, we’ll also talk about knowing when to get off the bus!

Participants leave the program with a solid working knowledge of riding fixed route buses and they are ready to hit the road the next day.

Even if you do not utilize bus service immediately—or even for many years to come—the Hop on the Bus program sets a solid foundation for future travel. I envision some participants years down the road finding themselves needing to utilize a fixed route bus and remembering back to their Hop on the Bus training with confidence that they can do it!

Personally, I am genuinely honored to be an active part of the Hop on the Bus training. I enjoy working with awesome colleagues like Sarah Armour, Jenny Higgins, and Tricia Luzadder from JJ’s List; the acclaimed actress and self-advocate, Bridget Brown; and skilled travel training experts from the RTA, including Kristen Salkas, Beth Daly, Sarah Blair, Linda Chamberlain, Jillian McClain, and Rahman Burton.

Living an independent life is important to us all, and being able to utilize public transportation is an important aspect of it. I am proud to play if even a small part in helping people expand their transportation options and positively impact their quality of life.


Want to find out more about Pace Hop On The Bus workshops? Interested in hosting a free training at your school or organization? Please click here to request more information!

Edward Madden is the Coordinator of Public Outreach for Pace Suburban Bus and one of the Hop on the Bus presenters. Among his many communication responsibilities, Ed spends a good portion of his time promoting the many transportation services that Pace offers in the 220 communities of the 6-county Chicagoland region. 

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