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A guide to getting the bus with kids

Tips and tricks to help with the journey

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A guide to getting the bus with kids

We were approached by Isle of Man Transport to help to alleviate some anxiety that some people face when looking to do something new with kids.

One of those such things is getting the bus with kids. Some people will be fine with this and won’t have taken a second thought before piling on the bus with three or four children of differing ages.

Others, like me, will ask themselves: How do I read the timetable? What ticket do I get? How do I pay? Can I take the pram? Where can I stow the pram? Can my child stay in the pram? How do I know where we are? When do I get off? How can I entertain them? So many questions and each one adding a little more to an already over anxious mind.

So hopefully this guide will help answer some of those questions!

Planning your journey

I’ve always been rubbish at reading bus timetables (available here), but luckily passengers of Isle of Man Transport services have access to Traveline, a handy online journey planner. You can put in where you are traveling from and to and it will plan your route, even if it means multiple buses.

Sticking with tech, whilst you’re waiting for your bus, you can track it in real time using All Isle of Man Transport buses are fitted with trackers and these are updated every 10 seconds on the webpage. Very handy! Heritage railways also appear on this map in grey and school buses are in orange so they are easy to spot.

If you prefer human interaction, you can call 01624 662525 or pop into the Welcome Centre and the team will journey plan for you.

Fares and how to pay

Fares vary by the journey but up to two children who are under 5 are FREE when in accompany of an adult. A child is classed as aged between 5 and 15.

This means that a family of four (two adults and two children under five) would pay for 2 adult tickets only. And another family of four (one adult and three children under five) would pay for one adult and one child ticket. Hopefully that gives you the idea…!

There are a few ways to pay. On the bus is probably the most common and you can pay with cash, card (contactless only) or Apple Pay/Google Pay with your phone. Just as a point, Bus Vannin don’t offer ‘return’ tickets anymore but their GO cards can work just as well.

You can also purchase a GO Card (which is also your contactless payment method) and there are quite a few of them to choose from depending on what you need.

We used a family GO Explore card which provides UNLIMITED travel on any scheduled bus, tram or train service within the time period of the ticket (1, 3, 5 or 7 days). It is valid for two adults and up to three children between the ages of 5 and 15. This means you can hop on the bus to Castletown, then the Steam Train to Douglas, Horse Tram along the prom to jump on the Electric Tram to Laxey, up to Snaefell and back, then onwards to Ramsey and back home on the bus, all for £41.50 (2022 prices)! You can buy a GO Explore Card here.

Taking a pram onto the bus

The buses will lower so that the door of the bus is pretty much level with the pavement and so it is usually only a small ‘curb’ if you need to ‘drive’ a pram onto the bus.

There is plenty of storage spaces in the racks at the front of the bus if you are stowing the pram. Alternatively, if you’re little one is sleeping or needs to stay in the pram, you can use the ‘pull down’ seats which are reserved for those that need better accessibility. This way, you can sit with the pram next to you without blocking the aisle. Some of the older buses don’t have pram signs on them but all of the newer ones do and the drivers know this too.

Location Information whilst on the bus

Most of the buses, have a pretty funky digital route display at the front of the bus which tells you the next few stops.

You can also use the website to check where your bus is so you know when it’s your time to get off.

The drivers are friendly and if you ask nicely they’ll try to remember to remind you when to get off too.

Keeping kids entertained

Depending on your journey length and how often you go on a bus can give differing answers to this. We don’t often go on a bus (we live in Glen Maye which doesn’t have many) and so a bus journey for our kids is actually pretty exciting! They love to look out of the window and spot the sheep or cows or horses or diggers.

For our kids, we also find snacks are pretty important and tend to occupy them for a little while!

However ALL of the buses have Wi-Fi and the majority also have USB sockets can help massively if it’s a longer journey and you just need them to keep still! Get the phone or tablet out, stick on CBeebies or Milkshake and enjoy a little peace. No one is judging, just own that quietness – you deserve it!

Finding out more information

Isle of Man Transport / Bus Vannin website is really useful for routes, fares and general updates. You can also like their social media pages to discover more experiences!

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Hopefully that helps at least one person with their anxieties but if you want any more guidance, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help if we can.

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