Autism Spectrum

Launchpad

leaving school and leading your own life

Using public transport

 

Being able to use public transport is essential for accessing opportunities in the wider community such as employment, education, social and leisure activities.

In order to use public transport, young people must know what transport systems are available to them and how to access them.

They need to be able to plan their travel and know how to travel safely and respond to any problems that emerge.

Young people with high support needs can receive travel training through special education units at high school and during their post school programs.

Several core skills are necessary for travel training to take place:

  • awareness of their own personal space
  • awareness of the environment
  • ability to recognize and respond to danger.

Young people without these core skills require supervision when they are out and about in the community.

Some young people with autism will be able to obtain a licence and drive, see our Learning to drive page.

Others may be able to use public transport but may need some direct teaching of the skills necessary to get around safely.

 

Tips for teaching young people to use public transport

Planning travel

  • show them how to use the trip planner function on the NSW transport website or app on their phone (for other states and territories see links below)
  • get them to practice planning out dummy routes for different times, places and modes of travel. Discuss the pros and cons of the various options that are presented
  • print off route maps for their most common trips and drive the route with them, pointing out various landmarks and bustops along the way to familiarise them with the route
  • practice essential pedestrian skills such as choosing safe places to cross the road
  • discuss fare costs and ticketing options
  • discuss social etiquette of bus and train travel such as standing up for the elderly, refraining from sitting alongside someone when there are lots of empty seats, refraining from talking to other people on the bus or train unless it relates to their travel ( i.e. it’s ok to check which stop they are approaching, but not ok to ask someone how old they are or where they work).

Travelling

  • For the first trip at least, a parent or support person should undertake the trip with their son or daughter – show them where to board the bus or train, how to indicate to the bus driver that they want to get on the bus, how to know when their stop is approaching and how to indicate when they want to get off the bus
  • They might need support in safely getting from their bus stop or train station to the final destination
  • The level of support can gradually be reduced as required e.g. the next step may be to make the trip with them but to take the role of an observer, followed by accompanying them to the bus-stop or train station then allowing them to board the bus or train alone and meeting them at the exit point
  • After this they may be ready to complete the trip alone. For the first few times they should check in via text message as to their progress. so that support can be provided if needed. The speed with which the support is reduced will vary from person to person.

 

Preparing for problems

Brainstorming potential problems and solutions is a useful way of preparing your son or daughter for any hiccups that can and do occur when out and about.

They need to know what to do if:

  • the bus/train is running late
  • the bus goes past without stopping
  • they miss their stop
  • the bus breaks down
  • they lose their ticket
  • they feel unsafe for any reason
  • there is a problem and the battery on their phone is flat.

 

 

For those living outside of NSW further information on planning journeys and concession ticketing can be found on the links below:

Victoria – trip planner and concession ticket information

Queensland – trip planner and concession ticket information

South Australia – trip planner and concession ticket information

Western Australia – trip planner and concession ticket information

Northern Territory – trip planner and concession ticket information

Australian Capital Territory – trip planner and concession ticket information

Tasmania – trip planner and concession ticket information

 

There are a number of apps that you can download to support people with disability to travel independently.

Have a look at:

I travel

Way finder