'Human Bus' Highlights Benefits of Walking to School

Every Friday, some 25 students at the Nir and Rimonim elementary schools in Kiryat Ono board the Number 11 bus and have their fare card stamped by a driver.

But this is not a real bus, its wheels are no more than the legs of the children walking, the drivers are parents who come along as escorts and the fare card is only used to increase motivation.

The project is overseen by the Nir elementary school's parents committee, which runs the "bus" completely independently.

"This is the first year we managed to implement the program in full, after three years of trials," said Chen Tenna. Tenna presented the program at a first-of-its-kind seminar in Pardes Hannah yesterday titled "Walking to school for health, safety and sustainability."

At the seminar, put on by the Transportation for Today and Tomorrow organization, professionals also presented the various benefits children gained from walking.

Among others, it was noted that walking could reduce depression and anxiety, which have both seen significant increases in recent years. The experts also said that children need at least 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity a day.

Municipality representatives also attended the seminar, as did representatives from the Ministry of Education, teachers, parents committees and volunteers from environmental and safety organizations. Tenna explained the difficulty and logistics involved in organizing a human-powered bus like this, which includes seven lines operating according to a fixed pickup method: preparing maps, scheduling, enlisting parents to be escorts and mainly, verifying the safety of the line.

The human bus operating in Kiryat Ono is not the only one in Israel. Ra'anana also has such buses that operate daily and that are run by the municipal safety branch and funded by the municipality.