Category Archives: bus



by Laura Kelly

Yes, it takes a group of dedicated volunteers to scan.

Yes, it’s a weekly (or monthly) commitment during the school year.

Yes, it’s effective in encouraging active transportation and creating habit.

Several elementary schools in Marin County have been making green travel a weekly habit by using, a web application that tracks green trips by child, classroom, and school.  The tracking system generates real-time statistics including C02 reports and miles traveled. captures every trip and can instantly notify a parent by text, email or phone that their student has arrived on campus.

Volunteer school teams using conduct weekly (or monthly) scan days at school entrances.  As students arrive on campus, parent volunteers and/or student green teams scan barcodes located on a mini-sneaker that hangs from the child’s backpack.  A student receives a scan if they arrive to school by foot, bike, scooter, skateboard, carpool or bus. reports can provide students with immediate feedback on their green trip totals.

Old Mill Elementary School in Mill Valley

active2 activeTHREE

“Showing students their updated trip count and mileage totals encourages a green travel movement at our school” said volunteer parent Renee Shelton. “Students enjoy positive feedback and you can see the sense of accomplishment light up their faces when their barcode tags are scanned.”

Old Mill is also using the “Trip” based virtual badges whereby kids receive blue ribbon, perfect attendance and rain day special awards.


Hidden Valley Elementary School in San Anselmo, California

activeFOUR helps to get parents out of their cars and moving by foot or bicycle to school with their child. Scanning staging areas are social, fun and build green travel pride. “Please scan me!” says kindergartener Stella Lofrano at Hidden Valley.  Her mother, Lacey Lofrano, says scanning is a “big deal” every week for her 5-year-old daughter. “She wants the scan for her kindergarten class to receive points to possibly win the golden sneaker award.  I believe the active transportation habit that these young students are developing now will carry through to the middle and high school years.”

Parent volunteers for Safe Routes to Schools at Hidden Valley host green trip classroom competitions using the database.  A report generates the top producing classrooms for green trips every week. Golden sneaker trophies are presented to classrooms with the highest active transportation totals at the school assembly.

Safe Routes to Schools would like to acknowledge these outstanding elementary school parent volunteers for their dedication in using and inspiring green travel at their schools from 2015 to 2017:

Hidden Valley Elementary

Karen Stead Baigrie; Karen Zamarano

Old Mill Elementary

Kim McFerrin; Garin Bougie; Renee Shelton


Laura French; Chad Sigler; Greg Benson; Karla Pavkovic

Wade Thomas Elementary

Joe Loll

The cost for an elementary school to implement is $300, not including backpack tags. For more information about implementing at your school, please call (530) 402-8250 at


The Amazing Transit Race Poster

Teens Discover Independence in the Amazing Transit Race

“It’s fun because you feel independent; you don’t have to rely upon your parents to take you places – it’s your own thing – it’s pretty cool.”

Students leave for the Amazing Transit Race

Students leave for the Amazing Transit Race

A Terra Linda High School student expressed the essence of teen motivation – independence – at the Amazing Transit Race sponsored by Marin Transit last December.  Fostering autonomy and self-reliance is an important step for parents to nurture in their teenage.  Giving teens the opportunity to problem solve and learn adult skills, builds confidence and promotes self-esteem as teens branch out into the wider world.

Last fall, Terra Linda High School students partnered with Safe Routes to Schools to create The Amazing Transit Race – a race which was hugely popular because it taught skills for independence while being a socially engaging and fun.  The goal of the race was to expose students to the ease with which they could ride the bus throughout Marin County.  According to another student, “It’s [riding the bus] a lot easier than most people think it is.”  Sometimes, you just need to provide the first step for teens to try something new in order to encourage future behavior.  The race afforded this opportunity for students to learn how to be self-sufficient with their local bus system –  a skill which is transferable when they might travel to other cities and be able to travel without a car.

MSEL students with Marin Transit webThe Amazing Transit Race was designed by students from Marin School of Environmental Studies (MSEL) which resides at Terra Linda High School.  The race was like a scavenger hunt with photos.  Students were given a map with various points of interest marked on the map and were told to take a team photo of their group at the designated locations spread throughout the county.  Students traveled from Northgate Mall which hosted the race, to Novato, San Rafael, San Anselmo and Fairfax, and finished back at Northgate Mall where our student leaders counted the points for each team and determined the winners.  The team which came in first place won a GoPro Camera for each of the four students.

“We learned a lot about the bus system.” said a member of the winning team.  “I’ll definitely be getting a bus pass on my school ID next year, save on gas, meet a lot of people. We met some interesting people on the bus.  It’s a lot easier than most people think.  I heard a lot of people say they’d take the bus now that they knew how easy it was.”

About Marin Transit

Marin Transit provides affordable and environmentally friendly options for travel throughout Marin County.  Students under 18 years of age pay just $1.00 per trip which includes getting a transfer pass to take multiple busses going in one direction for up to four hours. Students can also purchase Clipper Cards and Youth Passes with stored values for multiple trips.  Since 62% of all carbon emissions in the Bay Area is due to transportation, this is compelling reason for more people to take public transportation.

Last year, Marin Transit increased its ridership and provided additional services, while keeping expenses in control.  The Marin IJ reported Supervisor, Katie Rice saying, the agency had “a long list of accomplishments large and small” which included expanded Shuttle service to Muir Woods, increased transit rides for rural residents, seniors and the disabled, purchasing 11 hybrid buses and 16 paratransit vehicles, and engineered bus stop improvement projects. (Johnson, Marin IJ, 1/26/15;  Marin Transit also provides a West Marin stagecoach to Point Reyes and service from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach.  It subcontracts with other agencies to provide service to many Marin schools and the Marin Airporter, Golden Gate Transit, and Whistle Stop Wheels which serves the elderly.  As ridership increases and as public transportation becomes more utilized in our county, we can look forward to a further increase in service by a public agency