Public Transport

A red double decker bus numbered 159 is driving along a road away from the Houses of Parliament in London to Streatham. On the side is the sign 'what is bassbuss?'

“[I wish there were] more seats that are just one by themselves, or like a sign that says the very front seats on buses (the ones that are isolated) are reserved for people with sensory difficulties, in the same way where it says give up your seat for people less able to stand”

focus group participant

Within the focus groups, people identified that the timetables of public transport can be inconsistent and delays are not always communicated. While train stations are more likely to have information about changes to arrival times or cancellations, it can be more difficult to learn this information when at a bus stop or in advance.

When on public transport, it can be difficult to avoid having to sit near other people which can be challenging. People identified that public transport is often covered in litter which come with challenges such as certain smells. Others reported that the textures of the seats can also be uncomfortable and that the spaces themselves can also be too hot, especially in the summer.

Due to the nature of public transport, it can be difficult to escape or take a break from any negative input. People identified that these spaces were more accessible if they were able to access quieter spaces/carriages, or ones where it was possible to have more space. People identified that public transport often lacks adjustments for people with sensory processing difficulties, such as spaces for hidden disabilities or alternative means of communication (such as using a screen to buy a ticket rather than having to speak). Some identified how they felt judged by others when using their coping strategies such as wearing headphones or using fiddle toys, and that staff would benefit from training in how to support autistic people.

Questions for businesses and organisations to think about:

  • How do you communicate delays or cancellations to services? Are these available online in advance (if known)? How are people able to learn more about expected arrival/departure times when waiting at the bus stop/train station?
  • Do you have quieter carriages or spaces where people with autism/sensory processing difficulties (or other related hidden disabilities) are able to sit? Are there spaces where the seats are further apart from others? Are people able to book or request these spaces specifically in advance?
  • Have staff received training about autism and sensory processing difficulties? Are staff aware of the potential accommodations they can make to support autistic people?
  • Do people have to communicate verbally to purchase a ticket or request a specific stop? Are there any accommodations that could be made to support non-verbal forms of communication (e.g. having a touch screen where people can choose their options)?

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