4.3 Tough Questions and How to Answer Them

Question and Answer Time – On the Bus

The question and answer period is the last thing your group will do together before the kids are released back to the classroom.

The key to handling a question and answer period from elementary-aged children is to be prepared, respectful, and engaging. By following these tips, you can create a positive and engaging experience for the students and encourage them to learn more about the topic.

Tough Questions

Throughout the past year and a half while deilvering the BusReady program to various schools, we have been asked a wide range of fascinating questions by all ages of students about all different things to do with the bus. By persistently experimenting with different approaches, I believe I have nailed down the best way to answer these questions that are both appropriate and fully satisfies the curiosity of the children.

Question: Why aren’t there any seatbelts on city buses?

Answer: Good question! Do you see how big this vehicle is? Do you think its really heavy because it’s so big? Yes! Buses are HUGE vehicles that are VERY heavy. The heavier a vehicle is, the safer it becomes because it takes a bigger vehicle to cause any damage or even move the bus a little bit! So do you think this bus is pretty safe then?

Also, we are always stopping and starting the bus when we pick people up and drop people off. It would take a long time for everyone to buckle and unbuckle and buckle and unbuckle and buckle and unbuckle, right?

Question: Can’t I just say I’m 12 and get on for free, even after I turn 13?

Answer: Well, I guess you could. However, you’re not really being honest, are you? The money we pay for the bus only goes into making the bus system better. Like getting new buses, cleaning our buses, fixing our buses, making new routes, creating more frequent routes, keeping everything on time, etc. So, if you are of an age to pay a fare and you choose not to pay that fare, you can no longer complain about the bus being late, or dirty, or not as frequent as you would like, because you’re not doing your part as a transit rider by paying your fare. Does that make sense? Your bus fare contributes to keeping the bus system running as it should.

Question: Do you own a car?

Answer: Yes, I do. But I also try to take transit as much as possible to offset the impact of my car on the environment. I really do believe transit is the future, so I make sure to ride transit as often as I can.

Question: How much do you get paid?

Answer: I’d rather not answer that one if you don’t mind! Anyone else have a different question?

Question: What happens if you get in a bus crash?

Answer: Drivers are humans too! Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. If the bus were to break down, or get in an accident, the driver would call the authorities and call dispatch for an extra bus to be put out to carry you and your fellow passengers to your destination.

Question: What would happen if someone with a gun came on the bus?

Answer: Well, even though that’s very unlikely, the driver would call the police as soon as possible. When the call comes from a bus, it gets instant priority so help would be on the way very quickly. But again, that would most likely never happen.

Question: What if there was a fire on the bus?

Answer: We have a fire extinguisher, right here!

Question: What if there was an earthquake?

Answer: The bus is a pretty good place to be during an earthquake! It’s a very heavy and strong vehicle, which makes it very safe.

Taylor’s Tips: The Snowball Effect

Sometimes, usually during the bus tour, one child will ask a question, such as “What if there was a fire on the bus?” and I will answer it with the fire extinguisher answer. Then, another child will try to find holes in my answer. For example, “What if they couldn’t get to the fire extinguisher?” Then I would say, the driver would call the fire department and evacuate the bus.

The snowball effect is when kids keep adding more elaborate and crazy scenarios for you to jump through – all stemming off of one question. So, what seemed like a small snowball has now rolled out of control and become a huge fantastical/awful scenario which would NEVER happen, but the kids have created for you to solve.

For example: “What if the emergency exits didn’t open?” “What if the fire moved so fast that no one could get out in time?” “What if we were driving over a bridge at the exact time the fire broke out and you either had to jump out of the window into the water or stay in the bus where the fire was?” “What if the fire was coming from a fire-breathing dragon and it picked up the bus after and flew away and you were still inside?!?!?!?!?!”

When I start to notice the snowball effect, instead of trying to solve each imaginary scenario, I simply stop taking questions about any emergency situations. I say “There are emergency protocols that our drivers follow for each emergency situation. We could go through them all, but because we don’t have that much time together, I can assure you that any scenario would be professionally handled by our Bus Drivers – and you are safe on the bus. Does anyone have any questions NOT related to an emergency scenario?”

There will still be kids who are putting up their hands with additional scenario questions – however, when they start, you can gently remind them that we’ve moved on from that topic, and reiterate to them that we are safe on the bus.

Please watch the following video to see an example of the snowball effect and how Taylor responds:

BusReady Ambassador Training - 4.3