Will you be travelling by public transport after your hip replacement?
Are you worried about how you will manage? Well so was I.
If public transport is your only option then its wise to mug up on the challenges you'll be facing.
It can be a bit scary at first, so be prepared, stay safe and enjoy your new found freedom.
Read on for specific information for dealing with trains, buses and tubes
Travelling by public transport covers a variety of vehicles each with their individual issues. Buses are probably the easiest vehicles to get in and out of so let's start with those.
Nowadays most buses can lower their front entrance to allow easier access and, in my experience, drivers seem ready and willing to do this. The back exit is different and that defeated me more than once. It's hard to ask the driver to lower the floor if you have to shout down a crowded bus (one of the more embarrassing things about travelling by public transport). I found it simpler to leave by the front entrance again asking the driver to lower the floor.
Tubes, metros or subways - call them what you will - are usually easy to get on and off though there are sometimes gaps between the train and the platform. If you are still on the platform then just move down to the next carriage. If you're on the train trying to get off either ask for help, try a different door or wait till the next stop and make your way back. A drag I know but better then a trip to hospital.
The real problem with tubes is getting to the platform in the first place. Can you manage escalators? On my first trip out I found the up escalator just about okay (take huge breath and limp very quickly) but the down escalator was too much. This meant that for the first few days I was confined to stations with a lift or (shortish) stair access. I also quickly learnt that I must take into account where I would need to change.
To change lines on the underground requires considerable knowledge of the layout of all the possible stations involved. For instance to change from the Victoria line to the Northern line at Stockwell involves a flat walk of about 15 yards. Whereas changing from the Jubilee line to the Piccadilly line at Green Park is a total nightmare. Difficult to find (and often out of service) lifts and long, long corridors. I'm sure readers from other cities must face similar problems.
Have you ever been to Clapham Junction and made the leap from train to platform? If not imagine the train doors sliding open and their being a truly huge gap that you must somehow fling yourself down and across and you'll get the picture. Okay so most stations aren't that bad (and most of CJ is okay) but be warned and think about where you will be travelling and what the station is like.
Train stations also often suffer from a total lack of lifts. I'm aware that these are slowly being installed across the network but until then be ready to clamber up and down stairs if you need to change platforms.
Another problem with some of the older trains is that boarding requires you to climb a few rather steep steps. I find them difficult.
On the plus side you can book a wheelchair and ramp to help you board a train. I don't imagine you'd want to do this on a daily basis but for a longer one-off trip the train companies will oblige. I used this a few years ago returning from Cumbria with a broken leg.
I had mixed feelings about travelling by public transport the first few times. The escalator at the tube was very scary and I avoided it until I was sure I could get on and off quickly enough.
I definitely wouldn't have managed without friends to help to start with but once I'd got the hang of it I was fine. It's a very freeing experience after being cooped up indoors.
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