Kids love vehicles — cars, trucks, construction equipment. The bigger the ride, the better. But how often do children get a chance to “get up close and personal” with buses, big rigs and emergency responder units? “Touch-a-Truck” events, a relatively new type of community activity, are giving kids across the country the opportunity to sit behind the wheel.
In the Greater Philadelphia region, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) buses can regularly be found at Touch-a-Trucks alongside cement mixers, motorcycles, ambulances, police cars, tow trucks, military vehicles and more. Children climb aboard, honking horns, turning steering wheels and letting their imaginations take over as they pretend to drive down streets, picking up passengers, rescuing people, moving dirt or hauling trash.
Touch-a-Trucks don’t just allow children the chance to fulfill their fantasies of operating big machines — they also provide for unique learning experiences.
“The events are great educational tools,” said Rochelle Culbreath, a SEPTA constituent relations coordinator who often organizes the agency’s Touch-a-Truck participation. “Our operators are on hand to discuss their jobs, how to drive the bus, and the mechanical system and safety measures the public should take when riding on or being near a bus.”
Because Touch-a-Trucks are family-friendly, they have gained popularity as fundraisers for numerous community groups.
“Black-tie galas and luncheons are adults only,” said Culbreath. “But for a minimal amount, like $20 per family, parents can include their kids in a fun afternoon out for a good cause, with a little learning snuck in.”
SEPTA participates in about four Touch-a-Trucks annually — a number Culbreath anticipates will grow as the activities become more widespread in the agency’s service region.
“There is little cost for the organization hosting the program and the festive atmosphere is appealing to a wide audience,” she said “For SEPTA, since some of the children attending the events have never taken public transportation, we are able to introduce them to a whole new world of travel via mass transit. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "'Purdue to honor Delon Hampton" here.
Transit authority operators nationwide have been victims of sometimes brutally violent acts, but in Philadelphia, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority has had a decrease in bus operator assaults by almost 60% since 2011. How did they do that?
The cost of copper was around $2.50 a pound in mid-June. While that might not sound like a lot of money, when you have hundreds of feet of copper wire, you’re talking about thousands of dollars or more. Transit systems, which utilize copper in wiring, are the latest target for thieves looking to make some easy cash.
While PTC may have just recently entered the consciousness of the public at-large, it has been an issue for freight and commuter rail systems since Congress passed the Rail Safety Improvement Act (RSIA) (P.L. 110-432) in 2008 following the collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific freight train in Los Angeles. Since that time, rail organizations have been working toward meeting the federally-mandated PTC implementation deadline of December 31, 2015. With less than six months to go, several commuter rail systems have said that, not only will they not meet the deadline, they will need several more years before having full PTC implementation on their trains.
Disruptive technologies and the new era of information sharing are helping to evolve and advance public transportation in our nation’s greatest cities. Nearly 300 mayors and government officials convened in San Francisco June 19-22 for the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 83rd Annual Meeting, featuring remarks from President Obama and former U.S. Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. I was invited to speak in front of these influential government leaders to discuss “Technology and the Transformation of Urban Transportation.” This article will give readers an inside look at the conversation.
In times of disaster or tragedy, public transit agencies are frequently called upon to assist their communities and other transportation organizations. In case of fire, evacuation or accident, buses may be used to shelter or transport the displaced or injured, or serve as a respite site for first responders.