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Bus passengers with sight loss on the road to nowhere, says survey

25 Apr 2013

RTN 190People who are blind or partially sighted are being cut off from family and friends, missing vital doctors’ appointments and forced to turn down jobs because buses don’t cater for their needs.

The Road to Nowhere Survey, published by Guide Dogs today, reveals that 80% of people with sight loss say they are unable to enjoy the freedom that others take for granted because they find travelling by bus so difficult. Almost three quarters (72%) have been put off visiting friends and family, and almost two thirds (65%) have missed out on social occasions like birthday parties.

Audio announcements on buses make a massive difference to passengers with sight loss. Guide Dogs wants all buses to be ‘Talking Buses’, fitted with on-board audio-visual technology which announces bus routes, destinations and next stops. We also want more training for bus drivers, so they know how to support passengers who are blind and partially sighted.

Guide dog owner Joel Young missed a hospital appointment in Oxford because there was no helpful audio information on his bus. He said: “I got on what I thought was the right bus, but after about five minutes I realised I was heading into the centre of Oxford. I was really frustrated because I had been waiting for this appointment for a long time and I knew I wouldn’t make it by the time I got off. It was a difficult and stressful experience that would have been made much easier if the bus had just announcements that told me where it was going and what the stops were.”

The Road to Nowhere survey found that being excluded from bus travel has a clear knock on effect for the health and employment prospects of people with sight loss. More than one in three (35%) said the prospect of travelling by bus had put them off attending doctors or hospital appointments, 34% had been made late for work and 14% said it had prevented them from taking a job. There are other financial implications too; nearly one in three blind and partially sighted people spend up to £30 a month on taxis rather than take the bus.

Guide Dogs Chief Executive Richard Leaman said: “Buses are a vital way for people with sight loss to get out and about freely and independently, but many feel excluded from bus travel because of a lack of accessible information. At present there is inconsistency within and between bus companies, which means some routes in some areas are fitted with audio visual technology but, on many buses, passengers who are visually impaired have no help at all.

“We call on the Government to regulate to ensure that all buses are Talking Buses. We also urge local authorities and bus companies in England to use available funding to fit more buses with audio visual technology for the benefit of all passengers.”

If you’re someone with sight loss, tell us about your experiences of traveling by bus and whether Talking Buses would make a difference. Email campaigns@guidedogs.org.uk or get in touch via Facebook or Twitter.



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Guide Dogs want Talking Buses to be compulsory to make bus travel easier for everyone. Help our campaign by emailing your MP using our simple online form and asking them to put pressure on the Bus Minister, Norman Baker MP, and on bus operators and transport officials where you live.