Teen Series: (Part 8 of 15) Navigating Public Transportation

As teenagers prepare to spread their wings and explore the world, mastering the art of navigating public transportation is a practical and empowering skill that offers a taste of independence. I know, as Mom or Dad, you don’t want to talk about this kind of independence – the kind that means they are truly off on their own. But that’s what this whole series is about. Letting go and knowing you have thought of absolutely everything to prepare them for this stage of their adulthood. From scheduling an Uber to deciphering bus routes and even calling a taxi, understanding the ins and outs of different modes of transportation can make a significant difference in their ability to explore new places and navigate the urban landscape.

Even if they’re leaving home with a reliable vehicle that they’ve been driving for the last couple of years, things happen that could mean the difference between being stranded and paralyzed at the thought of getting themselves out of a sticky situation, or knowing exactly what to do. It’s like having knowledge insurance! In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the basics of navigating public transportation, ensuring that every teenager leaves home with the confidence to venture out and explore on their own terms.


Embrace the Ride-Sharing Revolution: Scheduling an Uber or Lyft

At the top of our list are ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft that have revolutionized how we get around. Teach your teenager the ropes of scheduling an Uber or Lyft ride. Show them how to download the app, set up an account, and input their payment information securely. Guide them through the process of requesting a ride, choosing a vehicle type, and confirming the details.

Download this Quick Step Guide if you need it!

Emphasize the importance of verifying the driver’s information and license plate before getting into the car.

I can’t stress that enough especially as a parent. A nightmare can be prevented by 5 seconds of verification on your teenager’s part, as goofy and unnecessary as it might seem to them. By mastering ride-sharing apps, they’ll have a convenient and safe option for getting from point A to point B.


Navigating the Bus Routes: Deciphering Public Transit

Understanding how to navigate public buses is a valuable skill, especially in urban areas.

If they go this route (*smirk), make sure they familiarize themselves with websites such as ridemetro.org. It’ll walk you through how to add funds to your Metro card, how to select your route, how to read bus routes and schedules. Show them how to locate their nearest bus stop and identify the routes that serve that stop. Guide them in deciphering bus schedules, including departure times, route numbers, and destination signs.

Discuss the importance of planning their trips in advance, considering factors like travel time, bus frequency, and potential transfers. By mastering bus routes, they’ll gain an affordable and eco-friendly way to explore their city.

It can seem incredibly daunting at first glance, but like anything else, learning about it takes away the elusive factor, and it becomes just another skill your teenager has under their (seat)belt. 🙂


Traditional Options: Calling a Taxi

While ride-sharing apps are prevalent, knowing how to call a traditional taxi is still a useful skill. Teach your teen how to locate taxi stands or cab companies in their area. It could be as simple as Googling “their city + cab” and finding a quick local number to call.

A skill like making a phone call might be something we “seasoned” parents might take for granted, but might be something paralyzing for a teenager. Show them how to call a taxi, providing clear information about their location and destination.

Go a step ahead and discuss safety precautions, such as verifying the driver’s identification and confirming the taxi’s license number before getting in. Explain how to communicate directions effectively and how to pay for the ride, including tips if applicable. By understanding the basics of traditional taxi services, they’ll have another reliable mode of transportation at their fingertips.


Navigating Public Transit Apps

Do you know what a public transportation app is? Public transportation apps can be a game-changer when it comes to getting around. Introduce your teenager to apps that offer things like:

  • real-time transit information
  • route planning
  • updates on delays or disruptions


Moovit and Citymapper are popular examples of public transit apps. Show them how to input their starting point and destination, allowing the app to suggest the most convenient routes and modes of transportation.

Teach them to interpret maps and navigate unfamiliar areas confidently. By utilizing public transit apps, they’ll have access to accurate and up-to-date information that streamlines their travel experience. You may have never used something like this in your time, but making sure your teen is prepared for anything can offer peace of mind for everyone. 


Safety First: Tips for Navigating Public Transportation

Above all, emphasize the importance of safety when navigating public transportation. Teach your teenager to stay alert and aware of their surroundings, especially when using unfamiliar modes of transportation. Encourage them to keep their belongings secure and avoid sharing personal information with strangers. Discuss strategies for navigating at night or in less crowded areas, such as waiting in well-lit spots and using busy transportation hubs. By prioritizing safety, they’ll ensure a smooth and secure travel experience.

Equipping your teenager with the knowledge to navigate public transportation is a gift that offers them independence and freedom to explore their surroundings confidently. Whether scheduling an Uber, deciphering bus routes, calling a taxi, or utilizing public transit apps, they’ll be well-prepared to venture out and embrace new experiences. With these essential skills, they’ll embark on countless adventures and navigate the urban landscape with ease.

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