How Nevis the guide dog, Jim Shannon MP and our campaigners have raised the profile of Talking Buses!

Campaigns Blog House Of Cards, Ash and HelenAlong with our campaigners, the Guide Dogs Campaigns Team has been raising awareness of the need for ‘Talking Buses’, which are buses with audio visual next stop and final destination announcements, amongst MPs.

For me, one of the most memorable moments from our Party Conference activity, was when George Osborne met retired guide dog Nevis at our Talking Buses stand.

Following on from this, in the build up to the recent Autumn Statement, we focused our campaigning efforts on the Treasury, with supporters writing to the Chancellor, putting forward the case for Talking Buses to be included in the Autumn Statement as an investment for the economy.

We were therefore delighted to hear that Jim Shannon MP was scheduled to speak in Parliament about the importance of Talking Buses on the very same day. Presenting his Ten Minute Rule Bill, which serves as a test of opinion on an issue in Parliament, Jim quoted the following experience of a visually impaired passenger in Glasgow “a common response to the request to let me off at a particular stop is ‘if I remember’ and a common outcome is that they do forget” and went on to speak in real detail about the need for, and lack of, Talking Buses. Jim also named a Guide Dogs supporter and constituent of his, who had written in about her experiences of using the bus. 

Unfortunately the Chancellor did not announce funding for Talking Buses in the Autumn Statement, but our campaigning has certainly raised the issue’s profile within the Treasury. We received a letter from the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, saying that he is “keen to find other ways to increase their use….”

To hear an MP talk in Parliament about an issue you’ve been campaigning on epitomises the beauty of democracy. So to listen to MP Jim Shannon present his Bill on Talking Buses in the Commons, following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, was a real thrill. We’re so grateful to all our campaigners who are making sure Talking Buses are talked about in Parliament and will continue to build upon this support to ensure more buses in the UK are talking. We’ve just created a map to show where the Talking Buses in the UK are – how does your area do?

You can listen to Jim Shannon’s debate at the following link http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04wv2dv and do sign up to our campaigns update to hear about the progress of the campaign at the following link: www.guidedogs.org.uk/signup

By Ashleigh Milson, Guide Dogs Public Affairs Officer

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