One of my goals this year was to learn to catch the bus into Bendigo from Kangaroo Flat to attend appointments, go to the library and take Archer to swimming lessons. I have been putting off catching the bus because I was anxious about getting the pram on and off. Buses are not really my thing. I prefer to drive. However, now I do not have a choice. Plus, it is not fair to Archer that he should miss out on things. He shouldn’t have to. So I bit the bullet, sucked it up and went to catch the bus. It really wasn’t that bad. If anything, it was so liberating and gave me so much freedom. Now I don’t have to rely on my husband to take me into town when I want to do things. This in itself has given me a huge chunk of my independence back. I now feel like I can do anything.
My orientation and mobility specialist from Vision Australia helped me catch the bus into Bendigo and back from Kangaroo Flat. She showed me the safest way to take the bus using two bus routes. I am now confident to do both of them on my own with the help of an application on my iPhone called Moovit. You plug the destination into the app and the phone chimes two stops before you need to get off, one stop before you need to get off and goes ballistic when you need to get off the bus at a particular stop. So even if you were completely blind, I feel that this app would be very useful. You can use this application in any major city in the world providing they have uploaded the public transport timetables and updated them. The voice-over application even gives you the times the bus is due to arrive at your stop. It is very handy and you don’t need to rely too much on other people to help you get on and off the bus. I am really lucky because I can see where I need to get off. However on the way home it is a little bit harder on one of the routes because the stops look the same with the tree line. Additionally, it is a roundabout route that I haven’t been familiar with before I lost my vision. The other route finishes at Lansell Plaza so it is really easy to get to and from Bendigo using that route. The application is fantastic on the phone and I don’t really need to rely on my vision to get off on either routes.
The other hard thing is catching the bus from Bendigo because of the colour contrast the buses have using their numbers. I cannot see the yellow or orange writing on the black background very well. It is not clear. Where I catch the bus from in Mitchell Street, there are 12 buses that pull up there so it can get confusing. There are plenty of people around to help out so I have managed to get on the right bus each time. They are also installing an audio link so that should make it better for me in weeks to come. It is much easier to catch the bus from Marketplace because both routes leave from the same place, so if I can be bothered walking up there I go from there.
All in all, as much as I don’t like using public transport, I am glad that I can now do this. It has taken a large amount of pressure off my husband. He now doesn’t have to leave work as much to take me places.