Advantages

6/11/15

Richmond – Waterloo – Brixton – Return

Most of today’s journey went very smoothly. In fact it’s fair to say that today was one of those rare occasions when there’s a positive advantage to being a wheelchair traveller.

The trip to Waterloo, being in the middle of the day was really quite stress free. There was space on the bus for me, and the train was positively spacious. The ramp wranglers were where I needed them to be when I needed them to be there.

I even managed to catch the bus to Brixton. It was, as this bus always is, well used but continuing my good luck the wheelchair space was vacant. The only slight fly in the ointment came when I tried to get off. The ramp deployed fine, but the doors stubbornly refused to open. I’ve seen this before, strangely enough on this bus route and at this stop, but clearly not as much as the driver. Without missing a beat he stuck his head out of the drivers cab and asked if someone would pull the emergency release located above the door. Fortunately a generous, and tall, fellow passenger did just that, allowing me to escape. As I disappeared down the road it was obvious that the ramp was enjoying the fresh air too much to get packed away again. That bus wasn’t going anywhere.

The return trip was a little more interesting. It feels like I’m making this trip more and more and each time I seem to hit rush hour on a Friday. Just perfect if you need space like I do. But today the bus was almost deserted. We did stop to pick up and drop off passengers, but only one or two at a time. As we got closer to Waterloo I realised why. We had been following the previous service quite closely, a service that was completely packed. I guess I got lucky.

Luck that ran out on the last train of the day. Rush hour trains to Richmond are always full, and this is even more true on a Friday. To be fair to South West Trains they have been adding extra coaches to trains so that there are now often ten rather than eight carriages. For some unknown reason the train I caught was only five coaches. It appears that this reason, whatever it was, was also afflicting many other services which were also running short trains. The upshot was that people were packing themselves onto train like some human tetris puzzle. Of course being in a wheelchair I have my own safety cage, my own personal space protector. It doesn’t make the trip pleasant, just a little more bearable.

So you see, despite the many, many reasons that make being a wheelchair user a complete pain in the proverbial, once in a while, just occasionally, there are advantages.

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About Alan

I'm an Economist, Geek, Campaigner & wheelchair user who's been using all forms of public transport for 20+ years.
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