I've had my disabled bus pass for a few weeks now but hadn't managed to try it out. There were two reasons for this:
1. Lack of confidence around my mobility and worry that my scooter would be a problem on the bus
2. Fear that my vision loss would make it hard to find a bus and find a bus stop
Then yesterday I found out that I'm entitled to a companion bus pass. This allows someone to travel with me for free to help me with my journey.
When I rang Wokingham council they were brilliant and arranged for my enhanced bus pass to be with me next week. They also told me that every bus driver is there to support anyone with disabilities on their journey and I should try it out.
So that's what I did this morning!
I checked the weather forecast, an essential part of my morning routine these days. I got out my scooter and set off the five minute scoot to the bus stop.
Of course a bus was just pulling away, but the claret bus is a great route provided by reading buses and another arrived within 10 minutes. And I had had a lovely chat with a lady at the bus stop whilst I was waiting.
As the bus driver dropped the ramp down, I collapsed my scooter, which completely amazed the driver. He then helpfully took my bus pass to scan whilst I walked the scooter onto the bus and found a seat.
Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.
When the driver brought my bus pass back to me, I asked him if he would tell me when we were at asda because I can't see very well. He was happy to do that.
Five minutes of bus travel later three fellow bus passengers and the driver all told me this was my stop. I let everyone else get off and then walked my scooter to the door where the driver had put down the ramp. Off I got, unfolded the scooter and followed everyone else across the crossing and into asda.
This is a huge deal.
It's the first time I've gone to the supermarket on my own in almost two years!
I'll let that sink in.
After an hour getting a few bits and bobs, just because I could, I set off to find the bus stop for the way home. That was sprightly more precarious because I had to cross two access roads (to the delivery zone at asda and to the leisure centre) and because I can't see cars coming that was a bit scary, but clearly I made it.
Again I'd just missed a bus but another one came along in five minutes or so. Again it was an easy experience and this bus driver was especially interested in my scooter, she couldn't believe what she was seeing. The driver told me where to get off for my scoot home and I was home five minutes or so later.
I can't tell you how fantastic this whole experience was.
It's increased my confidence.
It's widened my world that but further.
It's reminded me how friendly strangers are to each other.
I'm exhausted now though so I'm off for a couple of hour's sleep before Rachel gets home.