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Public transport for 60

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Panama City Beach...
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Public transport for 60

Hello, I'm a teacher from Florida and will be bringing 35 5th graders and their parents to Boston for 4 days next April. We are thinking about using public transportation in order to keep trip costs down. I realize that the group will be split most of the time when traveling. Other than that, do you think it's a realistic idea? Any other advice? We plan to stay at the Marriott on the harbor near the aquarium.

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1. Re: Public transport for 60

Your hotel is in a good location. You can probably get to a lot of what you want to do by walking. Boston is compact and it's easy to get around. Children under 12 ride for free when accompanied by an adult, so I would think most of your kids will ride for free. You could have your kids study subway maps well before they go. This should be fun and heighten their anticipation for the trip.

I don't know what the alternative transportation option would be. Renting a bus? You will be traveling short distances downtown and a bus would seem like overkill. Plus, parking will be a problem.

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2. Re: Public transport for 60

Valium. (sorry couldn't resist) I realize you want to keep costs low so this is probably the way to do it. With 25 parents it may be do-able. But I have a few questions - do you have your itinerary all figured out? You may be surprised how easy it is to walk to many sites of interest. Have you contacted private bus companies to see what the rates are? You could also check with one of the trolley tour companies as they may be able to give you a good package price. Here is the MBTA site where you can calculate/compare costs:

www.mbta.com

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3. Re: Public transport for 60

Once you figure out your itinerary and make reservations for your group at the sites you want to visit, then it will be easier to figure out transportation. I'm assuming you'll be more or less traveling as a group? Or will everyone be going their separate ways?

Boston, MA
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4. Re: Public transport for 60

Over the years I have bumped into large groups on the T. It is doable as long as the adults are not freaked out by public transportation.

Divide up into small groups and agree to meet outside the subway at your final destination

Have a plan with the kids incase one gets separated from their smaller group. If somebody doesn't get on with the group, the group gets off at the cery next stop and waits. The person left behind gets on the next train, gets off at the next stop and rejoins the group.

You know, stuff like that.

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5. Re: Public transport for 60

5th graders will probably love the subway. Are the adults OK with the subway? I've been shocked at how many southerners who have never used a subway are terrified of them. You need to make sure the parents are Ok with the subway. But, walking and subway is certainly the way to go.

I noticed you are going next April. It reminds me of a niece in 7th grade whose class was told there would be a trip from the Boston suburbs to NYC, but, unfortunately, not all the kids would be able to go...so there would be a lottery. Well, about 3 months before the NYC trip, the entire class was taken on a field trip to downtown Boston. The next day the teachers told the kids who would get to go to NYC and who would not. The kids not selected were all up in arms - where was the lottery? The teachers told them the lottery was the trip to Boston and those who didn't behave and follow the rules were the ones who lost out on the NYC trip.

Have you thought of a pre-trip field trip for your kids? :-)

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6. Re: Public transport for 60

I think public transportation is about the only option for getting the big group around central Boston sites. There is not a lot of room for huge buses and few places for them to pull over and wait.

Depending on budget, you may want to work with one of the trolley companies to charter a private Hop On Hop Off narrated trolley tour for the group (they would arrange multiple trolleys). It will be a nice overview of the city and make things seem more accessible for later exploration.

In addition to exploring Boston, I'd recommend getting everyone on the T and going to Harvard Square and Harvard campus. You can arrange a free student-led campus tour for the group http://www.harvard.edu/visitors/tours. If you do that, a good place for a fun meal might be Border Cafe. It's pretty big so they may be willing to accommodate your group size, especially if it's not primetime on a weekend.

You might also want to take a day trip to Salem via Commuter Rail.

Make sure everyone brings very comfortable walking shoes. Preferably two pairs so they can swap them out.

Other fun ideas for a meal and a bit of exploration is Chinatown. Of course, the North End is a must, but that's probably already on your radar.

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7. Re: Public transport for 60

Just wanted to echo advice above: Create small groups, so one adult has a manageable number of kids. No swarms of kids with a handful of adults trying to keep an eye on all of them. Too easy to lose someone. If each adult is constantly being accountable for his/her five or whatever, that's much better.

Have a plan for what to do if someone gets lost. Be aware that in some (but not all) stations, cellphones may not work. It's spotty. Some phones work in some places but not others. Some places are dead zones.

As safe and wonderful as the T is, there are rules. Be very serious with the kids about things like not leaning over the train pit, not standing on the yellow line, putting hands out when the train comes in, sticking hands in closing doors. No horseplay on the platform. No wandering off, no running the wrong way on escalators or getting separated.

You might try to avoid rush hour, since those are the times the stations are most crowded.

Teach them subway etiquette. When the doors open, you wait for everyone to get off. I've seen tourists push against the crowd, thinking this is the big-city way of doing things or something, or maybe afraid the train will leave without them. The right thing to do is wait for the people to exit. If there's an elderly person getting on, you don't dart in front of them to get a seat. (I've seen this happen more than once). If kids are occupying seats and an elderly, disabled, or pregnant person gets on, they should get up and offer the person their seat. (Amazes me the number of 20somethings, locals, who will let Grandma dangle by the strap as they read their Iphone). It's considered rude to put a bag on a seat if people are standing. Making tons of noise on the train is not considered polite. It's not the place to start sing alongs or screaming contests. I'm sure the adults would know this but I'm just throwing it out there.

Also, I don't know how to put this, you know how kids will often touch the underside of benches, hide in crevices or look for little places? Those places in subway stations tend not to smell very good. Puddles could be anything and should not be stepped in. Some stations are cleaner than others but some are what I would consider filthy. (parts of DTX, Park Street)

Sorry for being gross, but if I were unfamiliar with a subway system, I'd want to know some of these things... LOL I've been a kid on the subway and taken kids on the subway. You should be fine!

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8. Re: Public transport for 60

Well, you asked if we thought that it was a realistic idea. I think that it is a horrible idea. Far too many people. What is the point of going in such a large group? Why all those adults? You are obviously not too sure about the whole thing or you wouldn't be asking us what we think.

Boston
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9. Re: Public transport for 60

It all depends on what you are planning to see or do. If it's the Freedom Trail, for example, it is set up for walking and neither the T or a private bus will help you. However if you plan an overview of

Boston then visits to Harvard, MIT and Old Ironsides, then a private. Bus is the way to go. The T makes no sense for a group of 50 unless you were just doing 1 or2 legs. The cost and logistics rationale can best be explained by a travel professional.

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10. Re: Public transport for 60

I see large groups of kids on the subway regularly and they usually do just fine. Also most of them seem to really enjoy the experience. Children under the age of 12 are free when accompanied by a paying adult, so the cost will indeed be low. If you follow the advice given in some of the above posts, you should have a great time. One more thing I would add is to get the kids to hold on to something if they are standing on the subway. The Green Line especially can slow down and speed up very suddenly.