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Sunday, 20 April 2014
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Is it safe to take your child on the bus without a car seat?

It depends on which bus you're going on! 

Public City Buses
Public city buses, like those in New York City, are great modes of transportation and allow you to safely move around the city with your child without having to bring a car seat with you!  Most kids love taking the bus.  As a parent interested in your chilld's safety, you should like the bus too, because buses are safer than cars.  

Why is the city bus safe?
Buses are large and thus very visible, which means they're less likely to be involved in a crash.  They also move at slower speeds than cars (especially some NYC buses) which means any crash is likely to be less severe.  When a bus is involved in a crash, the bus's large size helps protect the passengers by absorbing most of the crash forces.  Passengers are less likely to be injured also because--unless hit by another bus or truck--they are sitting high off the street, so they're hit around their legs and feet, not around their head or chest like if they were riding in a car.

How do I bring my child on the city bus if not in a car seat?
You cannot use a car seat on a public city bus because the bus does not have a seat belt or lower latch anchors--so there is no way to secure the car seat properly.  To safely take your child on the bus, make sure you hold your child tightly or use a front pack carrier (BabyBjorn, Ergo, Snugli, baby wrap, etc).  And make sure you hold on yourself!!  Obviously if you can get a seat, sit down.  Kids will stay entertained by looking out the window and interacting with other passengers.

Long Distance Buses
Long-distance buses are a different story, and while it isn't required that you use a child safety seat, it's a good idea.  Long distance buses travel at high speed on the highway.  Fortunately, these buses are becoming safer for small children (and adults).  Some buses now have seat belts and some even have lower latch anchors.  If you plan to take a long distance bus journey with your child, find out which bus companies offer seat belts or lower latch anchors--and allow you to bring the child safety seat--and book your trip!

Specific long distance bus companies
  • Bolt Bus: D4505 and X3-45 buses have three point seat belts.  Car seats are allowed.  Older buses do not have seat belts.
  • Greyhound: The new D4505 (131 buses in this line) and X3-45 (190 buses in this line) have three point seat belts.  Car seats are allowed.  Older buses do not have seat belts. 
  • Megabus: Most buses in fleet have three point seat belts.  Megabus recommends that children under 7 use a child safety seat.
  • Jefferson Lines:  Some buses have seat belts.
  • NeOn (affiliated with Greyhound):  Car seats are permitted.
  • Peter Pan:  Car seats are NOT permitted.  Some buses have seat belts but there is not way to know if your bus will have them before you get on the bus.  
  • Trailways (Pine Hill, Adirondack and New York):  No seat belts.
  • Concord Lines:  No seat belts.

Is it safe to take your child on the train without a car seat?

Yes.  Trains do not have seat belts or lower latch anchors, so there is no way to properly secure a car seat to a train seat.  Like buses, trains are large and visible, thus less likely to be involved in a crash. 

Make sure to bring a child safety seat with you if you will require it when you leave the train--for example, in a taxi or in a relative's vehicle.