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Using Public Transport

Key points

  • Public transport includes trains, buses, trams and ferries. 
  • There are many Journey planner apps you can use that will help you get the best route from point A to point B. 
  • As you plan your journey, consider what might help you feel more comfortable if your trip is delayed, or the bus/train is crowded. 

Public transport

Public transport includes trains, buses, trams and ferries. If you’re new to using public transport, ask someone experienced to teach you the basics. You’ll need to learn how to:  

  • buy an appropriate ticket or transport card (and load money onto the card)
  • plan your journey
  • get on and off public transport
  • scan your ticket or transport card (sometimes called ‘tagging on and off’)
  • find help if you have a question or a problem while using public transport

In some cases, the public transport won’t take you directly from your starting point to your destination. Your journey might involve multiple methods of transportation, such as a bus and train, and a short walk. Google Maps can help you navigate if you’re worried about getting lost! You enter your destination and what type of transport you want to use into the app and it will give you a directions and estimated travel time.

Plan ahead

Traveling on public transport can be crowded and noisy! This can be intensely difficult – even intolerable – for some people.

Consider the following strategies to help make your journey more comfortable. Remember that these are just general suggestions – you know yourself best, and you may already have existing (or preferred) ways of managing anxiety.

Time your travel

Find out which travel times are less busy and less crowded. There are ‘peak’ (busier) and ‘off-peak’ (quieter) travel times. It might be worth practicing using public transport at different times of the day and finding out what works best for you.

Obviously, you can’t always control when you need to travel – sometimes this is determined by other factors, such as your work or study schedule. Nonetheless, it’s generally best to aim for off-peak travel times where possible, as it’ll be easier to find a seat and to care for yourself. Not to mention, peak hour travel can be more expensive!  

Mix-n-match your transport methods

Sometimes, you may only want to use public transport in certain circumstances or for short periods. In this case, using multiple methods of transport can help you manage your needs. For instance, you could take a one-way trip on public transport in the morning, but then organise a lift with a family member or a ridesharing service to return home.

Bring sensory aids

Perhaps you’re already an expert at managing sensory demands! Nonetheless, it’s essential to arm yourself with sensory aids when using public transport – squeaky train tracks, bright overhead lights, poor air circulation, stop-and-start traffic, and so many other sensory challenges!

You might want to bring things such as earplugs or headphones, sunglasses, fidget toys, soothing scents, or candies. Additionally, it’s good to have some comforting or entertaining items, like books or small gaming consoles.

Make a plan for dealing with unexpected changes

Unfortunately, public transport isn’t perfect. Sometimes, the transport systems need to schedule maintenance or undergo other routine changes. You can often sign up for email alerts (from the public transport service in your area) to get notified about these types of events. At other times, transport systems might experience unexpected changes. For example, a train could be delayed due to a signal fault, or a bus could get a flat tyre.

These changes can be incredibly stressful for passengers, especially if they result in larger crowds using fewer available trains or buses, which can increase sensory demand. You might like to chat with a trusted friend or family member about what strategies could help you in this situation. Consider developing a plan or a script for seeking support, strategies to minimise your stress, and safely managing the disruption.

Journey Planners are apps that – you guessed it! – help you to plan your public transport journeys. You can enter your starting point and destination, your desired travel times, and your preferred method of transportation. Many journey planners allow you to save your previous trips, so you can find journey information from trips that have worked well for you in the past to use again.

More information

You can find our more about public transport, including links to state-specific journey planners and ticketing information from Aspect's Launchpad website linked here


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