Talking transit is a new series that features interviews with riders sharing their transit stories!
Welcome to another edition of Talking Transit!
This time we’re talking with Lora, an avid transit user and not just because she wants to, she has to!
Lora has a visual impairment that doesn’t allow her to drive, but does that stop her from jetting all across the region?
Of course not, because she takes transit!
I sat down with Lora to find out all about her transit story.
**Spoiler Alert! SkyTrain is her favourite mode!**
What do you need as a transit user?
Reliability, frequency and safety. As a transit user I really don’t have complaints. The buses here in Surrey are so accommodating and helpful. Being visually impaired, I do need that extra bit of understanding at times. The buses have really been modified with the visual component as well as the person’s voice telling you about the stops or the station connections. I really find that helps quite a bit. I’m very pleased about that because it allows me to use my hearing rather than relying on my sight.
What about the system makes you happy?
There are so many improvements to the system for people with disabilities. You guys have really stepped up for people with different disabilities because I remember as a child in the region, I was basically left to my own devices and that was scary. And at that point, trying to get through to transit on the phone was next to impossible. Now, it’s so easy!
I’ve called Customer Information when I’ve been lost or don’t know exactly where I’m going and if I tell them I’m visually impaired, they’re really good at giving me specific instructions with intersections, landmarks, etc. They really take into consideration that I’m visually impaired. I’ve always found them so, so helpful and very pleasant. Because nothing freaks me out more then getting on a bus and not knowing where to go after that. There is a feeling of relief and accomplishment when I get off the bus and arrive at my destination and I think, “I did it!”
What would your wish be for our transit system?
I’ve always thought more articulated buses would be wonderful. Particularly South of the Fraser River. Because some of the routes get really, really crowded and it’s packed. There’s a lot of strollers, people with mobility devices plus the rest of the population all trying to squeeze onto the traditional buses.
I’m not sure what would be better, SkyTrain extension or an LRT line but something a little more rapid than buses would be my wish.
What other places have you taken transit?
Hawaii, Las Vegas, Calgary, Mexico.
What were your experience as a visually impaired person on those systems?
Honestly, it was a mixed bag. Some were good, some were… less than good! Mexico was not great and while Vegas has a quick monorail that goes through the strip and beyond, it wasn’t very user friendly for someone with a visual impairment. Usually, I will take transit over any other way of travel any time, anywhere but there have been times in other cities where I’ve had to take a taxi. Here at home, I never need to.
What is your favourite mode of transit?
I like SkyTrain! I love the view. I like watching the world go by. I took it for years when I worked downtown and I never got bored. It’s very relaxing. I have been known to fall asleep and miss my stop and go around a few times!
What are your pet peeves as an avid transit user?
Oh… there are quite a few! People that leave their bags on seats they aren’t sitting on. Or those who sit on the outside and make you climb over them to get in. Then they look at your like you are the crazy one! Also, riders who listen to their music or watch videos on their phone without headphones. I loved the Buzzer’s pet peeves campaign! You need to revive that and add some more characters in there!
Thanks for talking transit with us, Lora!
Are you a transit rider and want to share your transit story? Email us with the subject line “Talking Transit” and tell us how transit is a part of your life!
*We will try our best to include all stories but we may not be able to feature everyone*
Author: Adrienne Coling