I was diagnosed with a brain tumour back in 2012, but as I’ve also had epilepsy since I was young, I didn’t see the point of learning to drive. But I don’t like having to rely on other people to take me everywhere I want or need to go, so getting around by myself is a really big issue for me.
Luckily my uncle worked in my local travel information centre and told me I should apply for a free bus pass. I picked up a form from my local bus station, but you can also apply online, then your local council will issue the pass. Make sure you fill in the medical form and include details such as hospital information and letters from your doctor.
There are two types of bus pass; one for local travel and one for national travel across England (if you live in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland you should contact your local council for details on the national concessionary travel scheme). If you have a disability you’ll be entitled to the national disabled person’s bus pass; this covers people like me who can’t drive because of epilepsy.
This bus pass lets you travel free on any bus in England across different bus companies and, unlike most bus passes, with no time restrictions on when you can travel. You can use it before 9.00am on weekdays if you need to get to an early hospital appointment or travel to work, and any time over the weekend.
Along with the application form, you’ll need to send proof of your disability. I usually get my GP to write a letter, or send prescription letters or anything from the hospital, such as appointment letters or scan results. I also send in my letter confirming my Employment and Support Allowance (ESA); it’s always good to send as much evidence as you can to make sure you’ve covered all bases.
It usually takes a few weeks for them to process your application. It then goes to the medical department who will confirm your medical condition with your GP and, after all this, you should get your bus pass. You have to re-apply every year (I’ve recently re-applied for mine) and you have to submit all of your medical evidence again, which is a pain but well worth the effort. My advice would be to send off your renewal form a couple of months before your pass expires to give them time to do all of the checks and chasing around.
I’d be lost without my bus pass; it’s my independence and my way of getting around and keeping me sane. I go all around the country using my pass and can’t imagine how I’d get by without it. If you haven’t already got one, I’d definitely recommend applying for one.
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