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Introduction

Using public transportation is definitely an option to consider when needing to get around. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder may encounter specific challenges when doing this. Here are some things to consider if you will be using public transportation:

What kinds of public transportation are available in your community?

Knowing what the options are is important. Does your community have buses? A subway or train system? If there are many options, it is possible that one may be more appealing based on your needs and comfort level. Most of these programs require a person to register and show proof of disability:

ADA Paratransit Programs are for people with disabilities who are not able to use local fixed-route bus systems. A person usually has to pay for each ride. Contact your state department of transportation to find a program.

Community Ride Programs recruit volunteer drivers to provide rides for residents that have limited or no public transportation. Contact your local public transit office for more details. You may or may not have to pay for each ride.

Commuter Connections: Many communities have organized carpool and vanpool options. Contact your state department of transportation to find a program.

Deviated Bus Routes: Some public buses may deviate or go off the “fixed-route” between stops to pick up a rider. Contact your public transit provider for more details.

Medical Transportation Programs give rides to people with disabilities or individuals with limited incomes to medical appointments. Contact a community service organization or local public transportation office for more information.

Opportunity Cars is a network of more than 150 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping low-income families obtain a vehicle. Visit www.opportunitycars.com to locate a program near you.

Public Buses and Trains: These transportation types typically offer reduced fares for people with disabilities. Contact your public transit system for more information.

Ride Programs for Seniors and People with Disabilities: Some cities and towns fund weekly ride programs to grocery stores, banks, medical buildings and other local destinations for elders and people with disabilities. Contact your town clerk or provider agency for more information.

Taxis can be an affordable option in communities that have a subsidized taxi coupon program for low-income people with disabilities of all ages.

Workers Needing Transportation: Many communities have programs that assist workers with low incomes to get to and from work. Contact your local vocational rehabilitation office for more details.

Ticket to Ride

An Article written by self-advocate Max Barrows, representative from Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE), a national self-advocacy organization.

If you are leaving high school it is important to start thinking about ways that you can get around after you’ve graduated.

Like most students when I was in high school, I got rides on the school bus and from my parents. Now that I am out, there is no school bus and my parents can’t take me as often. I realize now that they had busier lives than I was ever aware of. So, I needed to find other ways to get to work, appointments, visit friends, etc. I learned in high school how to take the public bus, but I do not live on the bus route. What I have learned since is that you can request a bus route deviation. This is asking for the bus to go up to a mile from the closest bus route to your house.

Another thing I’ve learned is that there are often volunteer driver programs available to people with disabilities. After showing proof of your disability, you can call for a ride with a minimum of two day notice. A third thing is that sometimes a support person can provide rides to and from work.

Before, I was totally dependent on my parents. Learning all this has increased my feelings of independence. I used to spend a lot of time waiting for my parents to get off work. I had to hang out downtown after I was done working. Now I pretty much can go where I need to go and that feels great!

Now is the time to get out and research your transportation options. Start out with case managers, teachers, and other trusted adults. Ask them what’s available. Check out the regional transportation agency in your area. You can look in the phone book, try the internet or check in information booths for schedules. So, let’s face it: your parents won’t be able to drive you around forever! Start taking responsibility for your transportation needs. You’ll probably feel more confident and independent.

Additional Resources

Date posted: March 29, 2011. Content created by The Autism NOW Center. Last updated: December 20, 2013.

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