(Photo feature) Small Candy Factory riders on a big journey to explore the world – using UP Express

A group of daycare aged children ride the shuttle link to Toronto International Airport and learn some important lessons about rail safety along the way.

We all have that one memory.

That moment that transports us back to childhood.

For some people, it’s the taste of a Creamsicle from an ice cream truck stopping out front of their house. Or the smell after your dad lights the camp fire – after many attempts and a few minor swear words. But for a group of kids from Toronto’s Candy Factory Daycare, just maybe, it will be a memory of their first UP Express ride.

A child motions to an approaching UP Express train.

A group of kids from the Candy Factory Daycare get excited as an UP Express pulls into Bloor Station. Photo by Matt Llewellyn

As part of a summer outing to explore a wider world, 75 children, from ages one to four years old, were taken aboard UP this week (July 25). It was a way to experience public transit, as well as learn how to stay safe while doing it.

It was also a chance to capture remarkably charming moments, and to remind us all that the first time on a train or bus can be magical – and leave a lasting impression.

Officers stand with children as an UP Express train arrives.

TSO Tihana Karanovic and TSO Mike Lusty on the platform Bloor Station, as kids from the Candy Factory Daycare patiently wait to board the UP Express train. Photo by Matt Llewellyn

“With children of this age, it’s not about teaching them – it’s all about learning through experience,” says Blair Spence, supervisor at the Bloor St. West Candy Factory Daycare.

Spence believes to build important life skills, such as safely using a transit system, it’s all about role modelling to the kids.

“That’s where children learn best,” he says.

The group also had a chance to ask two Metrolinx Transit Safety Officers questions while they were waiting on the platform at Bloor Station.

A transit safety officers talks to a group of children gathered on the platform.

Transit Safety Officer Mike Lusty speaks to kids from the Candy Factory Daycare about the importance of staying behind the yellow line. Photo by Matt Llewellyn

“It’s really important we have that kind of interaction to reinforce safety on the platforms,” says Steve Harvey, manager of safety and security at Metrolinx.

“When the officers have these types of positive interactions with kids, it also helps reinforce the idea that they’re much more than a just a symbol of law enforcement.”

The lesson, added Harvey, is that the children learned the transit safety officers are on hand to keep everyone safe and to provide help to anyone who needs it.

Children smile while aboard the UP Express train.

Kids from the Candy Factory Daycare ride the UP Express north to Pearson. For some of them, this is the first time they’ve had the chance to ride a train. Photo by Matt Llewellyn

Children talk and look out the window of the UP Express train.

Tykes on trains! Kids from the Candy Factory Daycare excitedly watch the world go by near Weston Station on the UP Express train. Photo by Matt Llewellyn

While the round trip itself took less than an hour, the memories may last a lifetime – or at least until supper, when excited stories of the day would have been told to parents and siblings.

A child looks out the window of the UP train.

A youngster from the Candy Factory Daycare appears to be impressed with how fast they’re moving. Fun fact: UP Express trains have a top speed of around 90 mph. Photo by Matt Llewellyn

A child's wide eyes are seen looking out from inside an UP Express train.

A child with the Candy Factory Daycare takes in Weston Station. Photo by Matt Llewellyn

A child looks out the window of the UP train.

It’s a quick ride for these kids from the Candy Factory Daycare. Travel time between Bloor Station and Toronto Pearson takes just 17 minutes, with trains departing every 15 minutes from early in the morning until late at night. Photo by Matt Llewellyn

“Every one of them was telling me about the planes and trains they saw,” says Spence.

“That’s what it’s all about.”

Children point to planes parked at the airport.

You can find trains, planes and automobiles on the portion of track near Pearson Airport. UP Express service began running on the Pearson Sub on June 6, 2015. Photo by Matt Llewellyn

A child gets a look inside the front of the UP Express train.

A youngster from the Candy Factory Daycare gets a look at where the conductors and engineer sit, while the crew swap ends at Pearson Terminal. UP Express crews have an average on-time performance of 96 per cent. Photo by Matt Llewellyn

Children wave at transit safety officers as they leave the platform, on the way home.

TSO Tihana Karanovic and TSO Mike Lusty wave goodbye to kids from the Candy Factory Daycare on the platform of Bloor Station. Photo by Matt Llewellyn

Their short trip made for captivating and endearing images, captured here.

But for the children, it was the first of many journeys to come.

Story by Matt Llewellyn, Metrolinx spokesperson and senior advisor, media relations and issues