Travelling Tips Series for those with a VI – Bus travel

Hello all, my name is Andrew Rose and I’ve lost my sight due to a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa. Please join me in the series of blogs that I've created with Henshaws where I share my experiences of independent travel to help those living with sight loss.

I came to Henshaws in 2010 and the team’s skills, expertise and understanding helped me to learn to live with sight loss when I needed it most. I am now, very proudly, a member of the Board of Trustees providing my own expertise in business and finance. I have written a series of blogs on how I travel around independently, using public transport – see my previous blog posts on using trains, trams and also walking.

The reason I have created these is to provide education to the wider public and hopefully a little entertainment. Most importantly though I have created them so that other members of the blind and visually impaired community might learn from my experiences.

Andrew at One Mans Vision exhibition

On the buses

After an invariably entertaining day at Henshaws I’ll return by tram and train to Birchwood station where I await the number 28 or the Rural Rider. The former is a standard red bus (single or double) and the latter a white, overgrown minivan; which, being the only one, is distinctive and thus preferable as I don’t have to rely on anyone else. Alas, it only runs at 4.30 and 5.30pm. For either one, being registered blind, means it’s free – there’s got to be some upside.

Waiting at the station’s bus stop is where the fun starts as there are about 25+ standard red bus passing every hour and the 28’s timekeeping has been known to be wayward. The drivers who have seen me regularly in either wardrobe of floppy hat and leathers or slick three piece suit adorned with either hiking stick or white cane, stop, open the doors and shout out the bus number; very helpful. Sometimes they will even call in and find out how long until the 28 arrives.

Now the 28 is supposed to be at 47 mins passed the hour, so I’ll be more alert. The trap is the 28 going the other way. Only once, I’m pleased to say did I catch it and end up in Warrington Bus Station half an hour in the wrong direction. Ah well it’d been a while since I’d toured suburbia.

Back to the fun and tactics of catching the right 28. In my inside left pocket, written in thick black ink on A4 paper I have the number 28 (number 19 in my inside right pocket). They are generally very effective, but I feel a bit too blessed utilising them. More often than not I’ll put my hand above my eyebrows as if straining to see, then turn to somebody else waiting and say “Can you see if that is the 28?” Combined with my stick, people catch on that I’ve got a sight problem. They are then very helpful and it often spawns a conversation. It passes the time nicely, and I’ve borrowed somebody else’s eyes; and relax.

So I’ve managed to catch a standard red bus with the number 28 on it going in the right direction. Wahoo! Now I just need to get off at the right stop. Through using this bus during both light and dark, I have become accustomed to its twists and turns so I know whereabouts I am on the route. Though not necessarily easy on the eye, roundabouts are a great pointer for me. When I’m coming into my village it is a sharp right, before a roundabout which alerts me to the library stop. I always thank and bid the driver a good day before poking my stick down to feel for the pavement.

Tips:

  • Bus discount – if you are registered as blind or partiaimage-3-on-the-buseslly sighted, you can receive free or discounted travel on buses, to find out more contact your local council
  • Get help – the first few times you use a route ask someone to come with you as you build up your confidence.
  • Get to know bus times – record these onto a voice recorder or if you have a phone with web capabilities you can look them up online.
  • Write out the bus number – then you can holimage-4-on-the-busesd it out so then your bus is more likely to stop for you
  • Inform the bus driver – when you get on the bus tell the bus driver where you want to get off and ask them to call out to you when they reach that destination.
  • Talking buses – these are being rolled out across the UK, the Guide Dogs website has a list of which places currently has talking buses and also which places have plans for them.

If you would like information or guidance on mobility, using public transport or general support in maintaining your independence, then get in touch with our Enablement Team on 0300 222 5555.

You can find out more about using public transport here.

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Andrew
Andrew
Andrew Rose has been with Henshaws since 2010 after losing his sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa. He is a member of the Board of Trustees, providing his expertise in business, finance and visual impairment.