Our Destination Unknown report into bus passenger experiences – the people behind the numbers…

Destination Unkown CoverThis month we launched the report, Destination Unknown, which shows the findings of the bus passenger survey that we ran between February and July 2014. 2,009 people participated in the survey from across the UK, including 818 respondents who are blind or partially sighted. Thank you for taking the time to complete it if you were one of them!

The survey showed that whilst there has been progress in some areas there is still a long way to go. Some of the findings from the survey that I found most shocking were:

• 73% of bus users who responded to Guide Dogs survey said none of their local services had on board AV announcements.
• two thirds (65%) of blind and partially sighted bus passengers have missed their stop at least once in the last six months, and
• only 14% of respondents said a bus driver always responds appropriately to their needs as a disabled passenger

However sometimes statistics only tell us so much of the story. Many people also shared with us their stories of what had happened to them as a consequence of not having Talking Buses in their areas. The following story that Padma from Northamptonshire shared with us really stuck with me:

“In November last year, I boarded the bus about 5 pm and the driver forgot to tell me the arrival of my destination. After the bus had passed more than two stops, a fellow passenger told me I had missed my stop. It was dark. I pressed the bell and got off the bus. I did not know where I was to be able to call my husband on my mobile to come and pick me up. So, I walked down the road to find some light in a shop where I could ask for help. Since there was no pavement, I stumbled down a couple of times before reaching a house. I knocked on the door and asked where I was. The person who answered the door was very kind indeed. Asked me to come in and offered me a cup of tea knowing I was traumatised. I waited there until my husband arrived. Since then I never travel alone on a bus after dark.”

It seems unacceptable to me that our inaccessible bus network in the UK is stopping people from leaving their homes at certain times of the day, as well as putting people like Padma in a really vulnerable situation. That is why I am so grateful to the 9914 people that signed the Guide Dogs petition over the past few weeks calling on the Government to ensure that all new buses are Talking Buses.

Thank you to everyone who has supported this campaign so far. We will carry on campaigning on this issue until all buses in the UK are accessible to people who are blind and partially sighted.

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