When I arrived in NJ in September I thought to myself I would use the train system meaning NJ Transit to get from NJ to NY everyday, however I ended up realizing I would need the Bus system from NJ to NY and back.
Monroe Township is an area surrounded by retirement homes and a very peaceful zone, thankfully to me and my visual impairment also provided a great walking distance bus stop from the house I was staying at but the great hostess I had would drive me to my bus stop everyday and picked me up there at night.
Before I describe my experiences on the bus and going back and forth to NY I want to mention that when I went to buy my bus tickets to the local store I asked for the Discount for people with disabilities and they asked me to show a proof of my disability and I shown them my cane Mr Magoo and they said “ok!”
I wish we all had a disabled Card or our Passport said we have a disability but as doesn’t exist in Colombia, South America, I use my cane to prove my visual impairment.
The experiences on my bus rides to NY and back should be divided in 2, one is the experiences with fellow bus riders, always OUTSTANDING, and the experiences with bus drivers, not so great sometimes.
To go from Monroe Township to NYC Port Authority where buses arrive making it the biggest Bus Stop in the city, was about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
And coming back from Port Authority another 1 hour and 15 minutes (yeah over 2 hours and a half a day on a bus!).
The bus stop in Monroe Township was nice and when the bus would come around 10am always I would be asked by strangers if I needed help to get into the bus, always felt the support of people.
Once on the bus, finding an empty seat would require my cane to do its job by tapping the floor side to side looking for signs of people sitting there, once I sat on a lady and she was not happy she was a bit rude but I was smiling because I said I am sorry and she was not answering and I though well she needs to be more understanding, I didn’t do it on purpose just didn’t see her!
The least pleasant experience on the bus was one day going to NY, I got a call from a NY friend and I was talking with him for a minute and the bus driver started yelling at me SIR, END THE CALL, END THE CALL, I CANT FOCUS, and so on…
I was sitting near the front of the bus and I didn’t know you couldn’t talk on the cell for a minute, wasn’t a long talk but what bothered me was the agitation and rudeness of the driver knowing I was disabled and could have been more gracious, he had no manners, he yelled like crazy, I stopped the call but I don’t think he did it the right way, he could have told me please with no yelling involved, I was very near him and can hear fine!
One night I got so lucky that besides me I had an OPHTOMETRIST that helped me find out where I had to drop off the bus. Another times I would be helped by bus riders because I would always ride with the same people and they knew I was the only blind person on the bus ride back and fourth.
Sometimes the bus driver would assist me when going from NJ to NY but many times I had to do it on my own.
You see, buses when arrive at Port Authority they arrive at a certain area for all passengers, but when having a disabled person on the bus they should always take you inside the Port Authority area and most drivers didn’t.
So I would have to either walk on my own and look for the entrance to the building and get to where I need to go OR ask gently the bus driver to help me walk to that spot or drive me there and many drivers don’t like that!
So you need to be aware of this when using the bus system.
Also at night coming back from NY as they don’t announce stops you must always be aware of where to get dropped off and the only way for a blind person to do that without technology GPS stuff is asking people where to get off the bus, some drivers help, others don’t so much or don’t even know where you going and they get confussed…
Overall my bus rides were fine and ok but I defenetely recommend more if possible using the train than buses if going from NJ to NY and back.
I suffer from anxiety and the least thing I needed was to go on a bus at night to NJ at 9pm not knowing where to get off and feel the driver wont help or even know all the stops well, so I would feel real anxious and thankfully I would get help from bus riders.
Hope this blog post helps you understand my bus rides…
Low Vision Bureau
And Disabled Lifestyle Projects.