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Eyes to the skies or feet planted on a bus, students get a double education on celestial and earthly travel on Monday

Eyes to the skies or feet planted on a bus, students get a double education on celestial and earthly travel on Monday 

DURHAM, (April 12, 2024) As they took in the celestial wonder of the eclipse on Monday, also gravitated to a GoTriangle bus to explore an earthly necessity – how to travel independently around the Triangle.

Staff members from GoTriangle, the Triangle’s transit authority, traveled to Voyager Academy’s school parking lot on Monday so students could climb aboard a 100% electric GoTriangle bus and ask questions about riding the bus and more. During a visit that included a bus trip a month earlier, GoTriangle staff members had shown students the basics of bus travel, including how to request a stop and how to plot and track their routes online.  

“Today, the students wanted to show their parents all the things they had learned,” said Nathan (Nate) Kemp, a GoTriangle public engagement specialist who was providing giveaways to the group that included Voyager Academy teachers.

Jamie Brown, a Voyager Academy Occupational Course of Study teacher, brought her own children to learn about transit. She said she teaches high-functioning students with disabilities ages 14 to 19 transitioning skills they will need after high school.

“We work on those transitioning skills, and transportation is one of the main things, ensuring that they are able to be independent, live on their own, access doctors, access post-secondary education, work, Brown said. “Everyone is not going to qualify to get a driver’s license, but there are things out here to ensure that they are able to get to the places that they need to get to. And I love how GoTriangle was able to set that up with our class to do a one-on-one tour with our students to show them the routes, to show them the apps, to teach them about pulling the lever when they’re coming up on their stops.”

She said students were able to see passengers traveling on the bus in wheelchairs and how the drivers assisted them by securing their wheelchairs on the bus.

“So just because they may not be walking – they might need another device for mobility – but the city bus is still a great way to get around and be able to move around,” Brown said.

Michael Branigan, father to twins in the high school who have developmental challenges, said the event was one of the projects for the year he was glad to attend.

“Ultimately, we’re trying to cultivate some independent life skills, so one of the things that’s available to them is the bus, and it’s just a great utility for them to have independent skills to enable them,” Branigan said. “They’re getting close to graduation, and we’re looking to increase their independent life skills. Ultimately, we want them to be productive members of society. We don’t want them to just collect benefits. We want them to have jobs. And part of that job, is getting to that job.”

“Fantastic” was how Stacy Harris, a teacher at Voyager Academy, described the visit.  She said she was glad GoTriangle came out to the school to provide the information on site, making it convenient to attend.