I pledged my support to a campaign aimed at making bus travel easier and safer for blind and partially sighted passengers, and other sensory impaired people, at an event organised by the charity.
I signed up to support Guide Dogs’ Talking Buses campaign to get audible and visual (AV) information systems – which clearly tell passengers the next stop and final destination – installed on new buses not only in Chatham and Aylesford, but across Britain.
Guide Dogs has found that many disabled and elderly people find it very difficult or impossible to use buses independently and with confidence for fear of being stranded at the wrong stop. They are often left feeling anxious and unsafe, and some give up using the bus altogether.
The charity is calling on the Government to make it a requirement for all new buses in the UK to have on board audible as well as visual information systems, as is already a requirement for trains and trams. It is also encouraging councils and bus operators to look at providing systems on existing vehicles to improve the accessibility and quality of service for local people.
In a YouGov survey, 66 per cent of respondents said they thought it would make bus travel easier if there were on-board announcements about where the bus is going and what stop is coming up. Sue Sharp, Guide Dogs’ Head of Public Policy and Campaigns, says: “A lack of information undermines the confidence and independence of vulnerable people who rely on buses to get around. Blind and partially sighted people, for example, cannot see where they are, and others including wheelchair users who face backwards on vehicles may not easily be able to identify their stop. These people risk ending up at the wrong stop. “As well as disabled people, Talking Buses would improve travel for all passengers – including visitors to an area – hopefully encouraging more to leave their cars at home.”
Companies including Transport for London, Reading Transport, Trent Barton Buses (Nottingham and Leicester) and Thamesdown Transport (Swindon) have successfully rolled out AV systems on their buses. Guide Dogs’ Talking Buses campaign has the support of 35 national disability organisations including Mencap, RNID, Campaign for Better Transport and Leonard Cheshire Disability.
People can find out more about Guide Dogs’ Talking Buses campaign, and lend their own voices, by visiting www.guidedogs.org.uk/talkingbuses. Get involved in a great cause.