Orientation and Mobility: Welcome to SEPTA

Wow, sorry… I know it has been some time since I updated my blog about my Orientation and Mobility training. Maybe some of you thought I quit or, perhaps got run over by the bus, no I’m still here. In fact I’ve been very busy with O&M over the past few weeks.

SEPTAI’ve successfully used our local SEPTA to travel with Elaine and just recently by my self (to meet Elaine) to the Norristown Transportation Center (NTC), the main hub for SEPTA and other connecting buses and trains in our area.

I’ve also rode SEPTA more recently to visit one of my favorite places the Apple Store at King of Prussia Mall. This trip involves one transfer, and takes about one hour and twenty minutes by bus. Let this be said bus travel is not fast. To drive to King of Prussia Mall from my house would take a normal person about 45-minutes.

Reading and understanding bus schedules has been a bit of a challenge for me, not for the fact I don’t know how… but simply because I am a literal person. Bus routes don’t provide intermediate times only times for main stops. Since I am in-between, I find waiting nerve-wracking. If I know something is to be here at X time, it had better be here! – I hate that! 9:30 means 9:30, not 9:45…

Most people wonder how a blind person rides a bus, or knows what bus they are getting on. The simple answer is, we ask. Since I can’t always read the bus sign we always ask the driver “are you going to…” it’s always important to ask where your going, because though a bus may be heading the same direction, it may not be the bus you want.

SEPTA also provides a visually impaired riders kit, or “flag” as some would call it. It’s a little set of cards, and a holder with numbers and letters (large) and also marked in braille. You insert the cards into the holder to indicate your desired bus or train. You hold this at the bus stop to “flag” the driver, they are trained to look for this, and assist you.

Most newer city buses and trains also automatically announce the bus number and destination the bus or train is going to as you get on. “Welcome to SEPTA Route 93, service to Norristown”. – kind of cool eh?

In all my experience in riding local SEPTA has not been a bad one. The drivers seem nice, but are not overly friendly… just the ‘it’s a job’… kind of deal. But they take your questions well and make sure you get a seat. As a disabled person, I always get the seat right behind the driver or across from them.

The characters you meet on the bus are a whole different story. Any thing from your local businessman to your local bum, grandma and grandpa, to mom and dad, and let us not forget the ladies of ill-repute… we got’em all… But I’ll save that for another story.

Did I mention R93 is the bus that passes threw Norristown State Corrections? Do I have your attention?

Needless to say I’m still uncomfortable riding, and transferring. Norristown Transportation Center is big, and it would be easy to get on the wrong bus. But thankfully I can read the bus-stall signs when I’m right on top of them.

Not a comfortable traveler yet… but moving along well…

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5 Replies to “Orientation and Mobility: Welcome to SEPTA”

  1. Rich, this is all very interesting to me because I had no idea how any of it works.

    As for the drivers being “nice, but not overly friendly”, I figure that’s a step up from the average person in Philly, so that’s a plus. 🙂

  2. Congrats on how far you have come, Rich. That is quite an accomplishment. I will reassure myself of your safety by reminding myself that you are a Judo sensei. 🙂

  3. We are really lucky – in my town, the buses talk… not the drivers, the buses. They announce their bus and route at each stop, they announce upcoming stops, they tell you if a stop has been requested. When they come to a transfer point, they even list all the buses you can connect to… I love it! Great work on navigating the transit system, it brings with it HUGE independence!

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