In April, students from Bridgewater-Raritan High School, taught by Jan Carr-Jones in the School To Employment Program (STEP), participated in a TransitConnect group travel training led by Linda Rapacki, RideWise’s Director of Mobility Management. Students learned how to navigate Somerset County’s public transit system and travel to multiple destinations within one trip while also practicing several other life skills.
RideWise’s TransitConnect program teaches participants how to use the buses or trains in and around Somerset County, focusing on key skills such as reading bus and train schedules, getting to/from bus stops, paying fares, planning a trip, and more. Trainings can happen individually or in groups, such as the STEP group training.
Eleven students with intellectual and/or cognitive disabilities, joined by Linda and three teachers and aides, walked from the high school to catch Somerset County’s SCOOT bus. Students learned how to purchase bus tickets, read the bus schedule and alert the driver when they would like to get off the bus. After riding the bus to the Somerville Train Station, the group walked into town to the Phoenix Café. They ordered breakfast and practiced money-management skills by paying individually for their meals.
With full stomachs, the students split into smaller groups to explore Somerville, meeting with the Division of Vocational Rehab and visiting the Somerville Courthouse. Students also learned about pedestrian safety, walking along Veteran’s Memorial Drive to catch the SCOOT-R2 bus to their next destination: the Bridgewater Commons Mall. From there, the group walked back to Bridgewater-Raritan High School, practicing pedestrian safety skills such as crossing safely at crosswalks and watching for traffic.
“Students with learning and other disabilities connect best when practicing their travel skills in the community,” said STEP teacher Jan Carr-Jones. “These real-world experiences make a stronger association with how to take public transportation.”
The value of TransitConnect travel training is clear to the students as well. One student, Kelly, said travel training helps her “get ready for the future on my own by myself.”
To learn more about TransitConnect and to schedule your own training, visit https://ridewise.org/transitconnect