I make choices about the places that I go to on a frequent basis and how to get to those places on public transport. This includes planning my route, researching disruptions, planned engineering works, and planning an alternative route if something goes wrong with my original journey plan. I am able to make choices about the types of places that I go, including my place of volunteering/work for business purposes, and museums, art galleries, Central London tourist attractions, and places in the local area for leisure purposes. I am pleased that I am able to make these choices, and my family are very supportive in assisting with these decisions. I plan these journeys mostly using “Google Maps”. I made the choice to use this tool because of its ability to do the job that I want it to do, which includes stating my A & B, journey time and Google Maps telling me the best route to take plus the duration and any changes required. I decided that Google Maps is the best tool for this. If I need to plan journeys to travel outside of London, then my chosen journey planning tool is National Rail, as I find it to be accurate with both journey times and ticket prices.
One of the rights that I have as a result of having a learning disability and a formal diagnosis of Autism, is the ability to get a “Freedom Pass”, which is a very useful thing for me to own, as it allows me to make these different journeys within the London boundaries without the need to pay for my travel, except if I need to use National Rail trains before 9:30am on a weekday morning. I am aware that there are people out there that have no awareness of Autism and learning disabilities, and say to people like me “Why Do You Have A Freedom Pass, You Don’t Look Disabled To Me”. So far, I have not had this said to me in the many years I have been travelling around on my Freedom Pass. I feel that this is wrong, as I consider it as discrimination, and members of the general public and people who work at travel organisations like TFL, individual bus operators etc need to have more autism awareness training. You can apply to get a freedom pass from the “London Councils” website. The holder it comes in looks like the photo below on the left, and the pass itself looks like the photo on the right.
As part of my volunteering with “One To One Enfield”, I made the choice to be a candidate for their “Learning Difficulties & Autism Council”, and I was lucky enough to be the winner of the election for this during the hustings. After this occurred, I then made the choice to request to attend the transport sub-group meetings that occur once every 4 months by the person that runs them when I am able to when they don’t clash with other volunteering jobs that I do outside of One To One. When I attend these meetings, I have the rights to discuss and share feedback of my experiences with the use public transport in the Enfield borough with representatives of disability organisations in other London Boroughs. Most recently, there has been mention of the freedom pass in these meetings most people’s freedom passes were expected to expire in March 2020 (including mine), and about the not so good renewal system set by London Councils. I am pleased to have made this choice as I have found the meetings very useful, and the people that attend are very understanding in the issues that people like me face when travelling on public transport.