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6 Nov 07, 11:45 PM - The joys of the transport system

Posted by Jemma Brown

Today I have been to the hospital ouchers, don’t panic I’m not about to stop blogging because I’m too ill to continue, it was just a follow up appointment for contact lenses (you cant get rid of me that easily).

As far as hospital appointments go contact clinic is kind of ok, defiantly not as terrifying as normal eye check ups or going to see a GP, but what got me today was the getting there.

I usually pay a volunteer driver to take me or get my dad to drive me, but today neither of those options where available to me.

I had to get there on my own!

This was all fine, up to a point. My appointment was in Southampton. This meant a ferry across to Portsmouth and then a train to Southampton were I would have a little bit of time to go round a few shops and then get to my appointment.

But it was not straight forward at all; the train I was on didn’t have an audio or visual station announcement system, when you can’t read the sign on the platform telling you where you are this is an issue. But I was brave and special and different and I got there ok.

Then before I knew it, it was time to find a bus to the hospital. I frightened lots of “normies” by looking at bus stops but couldn’t see any that mentioned the hospital. I decided not to risk it and get a taxi instead.

I’m pretty sure the taxi driver ripped me off, I have no way of proving it but we hit a hell of a lot of traffic and at one point he turned off a main road went down a load of side streets and then turned back on to the same road, when I asked the driver what he was doing, he ignored me. It was very expensive!

Got to the hospital did the whole appointment thing, then went and saw, a family friend Tom who works in the eye unit at Southampton and is a guide dog owner, he then gave me directions and told me what bus to get back to the station. (Thank you Tom!)

I got on said bus and asked the driver to give me a shout when we where at the train station, by this point it was dark and I couldn’t see!

Did the bus driver tell me when it was my stop, NO. Thankfully a passenger who had overheard me asking the driver told me that we had just gone past the station and very kindly MADE the driver stop so I could get off.

Then it was the train home again no audio announcement system, which was even worse because it was to dark to see any landmarks out of the window, somewhat luckily my train was delayed by nearly an hour trying to get in to the station, so that told me I was there!

There are several points to this post

In total the trip cost me £20, even with a disabled person’s railcard and all the other available discounts. Furthermore as a V.I.P I am only entitled to the lower rate mobility component for DLA.

My second point is this: what is going on with the so called accessible transport system? Not only did I have problems working out where the hell I was today, I also witnessed a wheelchair user trying to get the attention of platform staff because they needed to use a ramp and being completely ignored!

I really don’t understand Britons problem with audio and visual signalling on public transport. I went to Berlin a few years back and was amazed at there talking busses which tell the passenger exactly what stop you are at and what it is near, which is incredibly handy not only if you are visually impaired but also If you speak no German! The trains where the same both underground and over ground, amazing.

So why cant we Brits get it right?

• Visit Diary of a Monkey

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