Growing number of children use public transport on their own

According to the results of a recent survey, now more than half of the parents (63%, 51% in 2018) allow their children to go unaccompanied to school, hobby class or sports practise.

„Children learn to concentrate and improve their time-managing skills because they need to adhere to the public transport schedule while using buses, trolleys or trams for getting to school. It is very different from the experience of a child sitting in a car, in front of a smartphone screen not comprehending what is going on around him, “ said Luc Saffre, a Belgian living in Tallinn.

Saffre and his Estonian wife Ly have an 11-year old daughter Iiris who goes to school on her own every day. He added that going to school this way also teaches independece. „It is a totally different lifestyle as they have to concentrate in traffic and plan their movements according to the bus schedule, for example. It is not good if a child just sits in a car, in front of a screen and when arriving, the child is just told that okay, now go to school“ explained Saffre. „Of course, it would be much more comfortable and maybe even faster to use a car, but we have experienced that her going to school independently saves our time because we don’t have to drive to theschool.“

"It's a completely different lifestyle, the kid learns to concentrate on the traffic and keep up with the times, because the buses are on schedule. You can't have a kid sitting in his car on his smartphone, he doesn't know what's going on and we just push him through the door, so go to school now, "Saffre explained. "Of course, the child would be more comfortable and faster to get to the car, but in fact, going to school alone saves us time because we don't have to go to the extra school for the child."

Indeed, the recent survey by Kantar Emor among citizens of Tallinn reveals, among other things, that parents have more courage to let their children move around the city on their own than they did a year earlier. As of December last year, 63% of children aged 7-12 were moving around the city without adults, which is 12% more than in 2018. Only 12% of children between the ages of 7 and 12 are always accompanied by an adult.

Compared to 2018, moving children around by car has decreased significantly, the usage of public transport and going by foot have increased. Last year, 13% of children were driven between school and home, 20% in 2018. At the same time, the proportion of children traveling to school by public transport increased: from 43% in 2018 to 51% last year. Slightly more than half (51%) of our 7-14 year-olds use public transport for going between home and school. 32% go by foot, 13% are driven in cars, and 5% go by bike or other means.

Tuuli Mõistlik, a family mediator and social worker at the Tallinn Family Center, noted that going to school, to practise or hobby class independently teaches a child how to cope in the city. "Nowadays we even have 15-16 year olds are a bit helpless when it comes to getting by in the city without being driven around. They have never been taken to school or other places by bus because their parents, and now also themselves, have the attitude they only travel by car.  The ability to understand how to move in a city by yourself also helps children while travelling abroad. "