For families and caregivers, taking public transportation with kids can be frustrating and unpredictable. Beyond the potential hassles and inefficiencies of taking transit, the physical spaces where families wait for and access transit—bus stops, rail and subway platforms, kiss-and-rides, and transit centers or terminals—only exacerbate the frustrations. These overlooked public spaces are full of blank walls and hard benches, are often unprotected from the elements, are sometimes unsafe and certainly offer little for kids to do before the next bus or train arrives. However, these same transit spaces offer a variety of untapped opportunities for play.
From bus shelters and the areas around bus stops, to subway platform walls and the waiting areas of transit centers, such spaces can be transformed into dynamic and rewarding places to play. If taking public transportation becomes an opportunity for play along the way, the often-onerous process of getting from place to place, and waiting once you get there, can become a joyful and meaningful experience for both kids and the adults in their lives.
Infusing play into the transit experience requires seizing the many opportunities presented by transit facilities and infrastructure, as well as the spaces around and between them. Given the many different modes of transit, opportunities for Play Everywhere can be quite varied, and can take place around stops and platforms, within stations and terminals and even on board transit vehicles.
From the stops themselves to the structures that house them and the spaces that surround them, bus stops (as well as streetcar and light rail stops along the street) can host a range of playful activities and installations. The possibilities include, but are not limited to:
These facilities range from small facilities with a single transit platform, to larger and more complex transit hubs with a range of internal spaces, functions and amenities. Depending on the facility, opportunities for Play Everywhere include:
While there are ample opportunities to fill downtime before and after riding transit, there are also ways for transit vehicles themselves to provide "play on the way," such as: