Thursday, June 09, 2005

Free public transport for babies in Helsinki

A friend just clued me in on another wonderful benefit for parents with children under the age of 6 traveling in prams or strollers - free public transportation in Helsinki! What a child-friendly attitude! This includes travel on the metro, trams and buses. I'm not sure if it covers the regional buses or trains, however. But, would imagine that it extends to any transportation that falls within the city zone on the fare charts.

Details at the Helsinki Area Transportation Authority website.

So far, Peanut and I had tried out the metro. Access is always by elevators that are conveniently placed alongside the escalators. The only downsides are the slowness of the elevators and the fact that some are used as 'public restrooms' making the time enclosed in them rather unpleasant.

Next up for us is the bus. Many buses in the region are low-riders so they should be easy to board and get off without needing additional assistance. If not, usually a friendly passenger boarding the bus will lend a hand. Or, I've also heard mothers shout into the bus if someone could give her a hand. When disembarking, be sure to press the button with the pram icon, it notifies the doors and driver you need a little extra time to get off.

Strollers should enter by the middle doors where there is a large space intended precisely for prams/strollers. Bus etiquette states that only two prams/strollers per space, so if its full, pls wait for the next bus. There is often a fold out seat for mom/dad to sit next to the stroller.

On the bus schedules, look for the small letter 'e' to denote more old-fashioned buses which are not low-riders and require climbing steps to get in. Also on the brilliant online Journey Planner service from YTV you can see which buses are low riders (matalalattiabusseilla) - just click on the bus number once you have your route selected and scroll down to the bottom of its schedule page. For example, the 103

Trams are more daunting since most have steps to navigate and the space on board is smaller. There are several tram lines (like the 3T/3B, 4, 6) which have some newer caterpillar trams that are level with the platforms, again making it easy to roll on/roll off.

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