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Public transport: tips for bus, train or ferry travel with a baby

A mother pushing a pram and baby onto a bus public transportFor many parents, being stuck at home alone with a child, maybe without access to a car (or anywhere to park it at your destination!), can be a draining time.

Getting out and about with your baby to visit friends parks and local attractions can bring a well-deserved break for both of you.

Travelling by public transport is a new experience for baby but it’s not always easy to get on and off the various modes of public transport when you are carrying a baby, a pram, a nappy bag, clutching a ticket or change and trying to negotiate steps and other passengers.

Here are our top tips for travelling on public transport with your baby.

Public transport with baby – general tips

  • Know the timetable. Check online before you leave to make sure you know when the bus is due. You don’t want your baby’s patience to wear out before the bus or train arrives!
  • Have correct change or a travel card. You don’t want to be messing around in your handbag or nappy bag while other passengers are trying to get past you and your pram.
  • Consider leaving the pram at home. You might find that a baby carrier or sling will make your life easier on public transport or if your baby is older maybe buy a cheap fold-up stroller especially for public transport.
  • Ask for help. Other passengers are always willing to help but you probably will have to ask them. People can be afraid to offer assistance in case it is unwanted, but they’ll gladly help if you ask them to.
  • Check your child’s fare. Generally babies and young children travel free on public transport but it is best to make sure and check what the cut-off age is before you travel.

Buses with babies

Travelling by bus with a pram is probably the biggest public transport challenge. Most buses have two or three quite steep steps to climb and a doorway that is usually too narrow for a pram. You might need to collapse your pram to carry it on board and unless you’ve got a spare pair of hands, that can be quite tricky while you’re holding your baby and everything else. Even if you are lucky enough to travel on a low floor bus without steps and with a wider door, you might be asked to take your child out of the pram once on board – this is at the discretion of the driver. If you do leave your child in the pram, remember to put the brakes on.

Ask the driver, or another passenger, to help you both on and off the bus. Once onboard, baby gets a great view of the world and usually a fair amount of attention from the other passengers!

Trains with babies

Travelling by train with a pram can be relatively straightforward – ramps are usually available to access the platforms and train doors are usually wide enough to get a pram through without collapsing it. Be aware, however, that platform heights vary and there is often a substantial step up to the train from the platform. Not all stations have ramps to all platforms, with the only access to some platforms being by stairs.

Check your local rail network website for details of wheelchair access (and hence ‘pram access’) at your required stations.

If you decide to leave your child in the pram during the journey, remember to put the brakes on and keep one hand on the pram at all times.

Ferries with babies

Most ferries have just a ramp on and off and gates that are wide enough to wheel a pram onboard. If you do encounter any steps, ferry staff or fellow passengers will be able to assist. If you decide to leave your child in the pram during the journey, remember to put the brakes on and keep one hand on the pram at all times.

Trams with babies

Travelling by tram can be a challenge if you have a pram. Like buses, trams tend to have two or three quite steep steps to climb and a doorway that is usually too narrow for a pram. Ask other passengers if they will help you carry your collapsed pram on board, while you carry baby, nappy bag and your ticket.

Where to go?

Check out our things to do with babies and children page for a whole host of fun ideas and places to go.

Useful local transport links

Most of these sites include journey planners and online timetable info.

ACT:  Action Buses
NSW: Transport Info
NT:  Northern Territory Transport Group
Qld: Translink
SA : Adelaide Metro
VIC:  Metlink
WA: Transperth  and  TransWA

Image credit: kzenon/123RF Stock Photo

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