Travel instruction is the professional activity of teaching individuals with disabilities, seniors, and others how to use public transportation independently to access their environment and community.

Public transportation has a lot to offer individuals, families, and communities. It can help people get to key destinations like work, the doctor, or church – but only when people know how to use it. If you, your family member, or someone you work with does not know how to catch the bus, find a stop, or pay the fare, travel instruction can provide the missing link.

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Types of travel instruction

Travel instruction includes at least three different services:

  • Transit orientation explains transportation systems by sharing information about trip planning, schedules, maps, fare systems, mobility devices, and benefits and services. It may be conducted in a group or one-on-one.
  • Familiarization teaches people who are experienced with traveling about a new route or mode of transportation. It may be conducted in a group or one-on-one.
  • Travel training is an intensive, one-on-one process to help someone gain the knowledge and skills he or she needs to make trips independently. Travel training is individualized to meet each student’s unique needs.

Note: Travel instruction is not the same as Orientation and Mobility training for people with visual impairments. Orientation and Mobility training includes travel instruction but also covers a number of other skills. For Orientation and Mobility training in Massachusetts, contact the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.

Benefits of travel instruction

Everybody wins from travel instruction:

  • Individuals and their families benefit from travel instruction because it promotes independence and community living. It gives people more choice about how to get where they need to go.
  • By offering travel instruction, human service agencies can help their consumers increase their mobility and their independence.
  • Transit authorities benefit from travel instruction because it can help them increase ridership and save money. Riders may be able to shift some of their trips off paratransit services on to fixed route services, reducing costs for transit agencies.

Resources to learn more

Finding a travel instruction program to enroll in

  • Consult our list of travel instruction programs around Massachusetts, or see this information in an interactive map of travel instruction programs. If you know of a program that is not listed, please contact us so we can add it.
  • If you do not see a travel instruction program listed for your area:
    • Start by calling your local transit authority. Find out whether a transit authority covers your area and how to contact them here.
    • If you participate in a social service program or live in a residential facility, ask program staff if they offer any travel instruction or can refer you to a local service.
  • Massachusetts residents who are blind or low vision should contact the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind to learn about Orientation and Mobility services.

New statewide network of travel instruction programs

  • Travel instructors, travel instruction program leaders, and anyone interested in starting a program in Massachusetts may be interested in joining a newly forming informal network of travel instruction programs here in the Commonwealth.
  • The network will offer you the opportunity to connect with your peers across the state to share resources and promising practices and brainstorm solutions to challenges.
  • Contact us if you would like to join the mailing list or receive updates on statewide conference calls or meetings.