Tips for people with sight loss when travelling on public transport 

Travelling independently with sight loss often requires public transport, so avoiding it as per government recommendations may not be simple for you. If walking or asking for a lift from friends or family members that you live with isn't an option for you, we have provided the following guidance to help you travel safely during this time. 

 

It is important to check the latest government advice on travel before making a journey.  Updates can be found on the following websites: 

GOV website for England  

Transport Scotland website

Welsh Government website

Translink Northern Ireland website

 

On this page

Is your journey essential? 

  • Before you travel, consider if your journey is necessary and if you can stay local
  • Try to reduce your travel. This will help keep the transport network running and allow people who need to make essential journeys to travel
  • If you feel unwell or have symptoms of Covid-19, do not travel
 

Plan your journey

If you must use public transport take time to plan your journey in advance. This will help to avoid problems when travelling.

  • Contact the transport providers you will be using to book assistance. Many train operators require you to reserve seats and use contactless payment
  • Travel off-peak if you can
  • If you must travel at peak times, some transport providers are accepting concessionary passes that usually are restricted to off-peak travel. Check with the transport provider before you travel
  • Timetables may vary at this time so check with transport providers for up to date information 
  • Train operators will still provide sighted guide assistance if required. Staff will use appropriate protective equipment to do this
  • If you are using Transport for London (TfL) rail or underground services and you request Turn-up-and-go assistance and staff are unable to provide the help required (for example guiding you on an escalator), TfL will arrange an accessible taxi to take you to the nearest accessible point on your journey. You can find more information on the TFL website
  • If you're travelling with a guide dog, let the operator know when you book your seats and they will ensure there is plenty of space for your dog
  • Passenger assistance for train travel can be booked 24 hours in advance (if this fits for you) on 0800 0223720 or text 60083
     

When you travel

  • Allow extra time for your journey
  • When possible, follow the government’s social distancing guidance from the start to the end of your journey. You can find our advice on managing social distancing here. 
  • If travelling with a guide dog, pack a bowl and some water
  • Train journeys that would usually provide refreshments are currently limited so you may want to take refreshments for your journey
  • To comply with social distancing requirements, transport providers are restricting the number of seats available on their services. Ask for assistance if you need help to find a suitable seat
  • Some bus operators have introduced rules on using specific doors to get on or off the bus
  • If you need assistance to scan your travel pass ask a member of staff for verbal guidance to locate the scanner or ask them to scan the pass for you 
  • The layout of stations may also be different. For example, there may be a one-way pedestrian system. Check before you travel
  • Taxi ranks may have been temporarily relocated at stations
  • The street and pedestrian spaces in some areas have been changed to help with social distancing.  Contact your local council if you would like more information
 

Face Coverings

Most passengers are required to wear a face covering when using public transport in England and Scotland. However, there are exemptions for some groups including people with sight loss who feel they would have difficulty wearing a face covering. Although face coverings are not a requirement in Wales and Northern Ireland now, check before you travel.

In Scotland, there is a requirement to wear face coverings in taxis and private hire vehicles. Across the UK some taxi operators are making this a requirement to travel. Check with the taxi operator before you travel.

  • A cloth or surgical-mask type face covering is less likely to impinge on any residual vision you have than a respirator type mask
  • Before travelling we advise that you try wearing a face covering at home or in the garden in order to gage whether or not it has a significant impact on your vision
  • The greatest risk of contracting the virus from airborne particles comes from being in close proximity to someone indoors for 15 minutes or longer. Therefore, we advise that even if you do not wear a face covering while boarding or exiting a bus or train, it would be sensible to put one on for the duration of the journey
  • If you feel that you are unable to use a face covering, due to your disability, you may wish to carry a document that identifies you as a disable person. For example; disabled persons railcard or bus pass