Talking Buses Campaign - are we there yet?
Buses play a vital role in enabling disabled people, including those who are blind or partially-sighted, to live more independent lives. But the worry of not being sure if you have got on the right bus, where you are on your journey, or when your stop is coming up, puts many people off using them.
Guide Dogs is campaigning for a change in the law to make audio and visual information - including audible announcements of the next stop and final destination - available on board every bus and scheduled coach service in the UK.
This will enable blind and partially-sighted people to use buses with confidence, and improve the experience of bus travel for all passengers.
Talking Buses Campaign - Existing audio visual information systems for buses
In 2003, the Trent Barton company relaunched their Rainbow service, which serves Nottingham, Long Eaton, Derby and East Midlands airport. This service was launched with 25 new buses, all with audio visual information and low floors.
The new service has been well-received, with a customer survey in 2008 revealing that 85 per cent of all passengers found on-board announcements very useful or quite useful.
Trent Barton is currently looking at expanding the number of buses in its fleet which have audio visual information.
Transport for London has now completed its roll-out of the iBus system. This now means that every bus operating in London - more than 8,000 buses - has audio visual information on board.
This is one of the largest projects of its kind.
Visual display on bus for Sloane Square
Ideally the audio announcement on a bus should give the next stop and final destination information.
This can be done through the driver or conductor making the announcement or through an Audio and Visual Information System.
Talking Buses Campaign - Why are we taking action?
By law, most trains have audio-visual (AV) information systems on board, and these make rail travel user-friendly for everyone. But the same law does not apply to buses. We think it should - and we are calling for the government to change the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations to state that "audio-visual systems are installed on every scheduled bus and coach service across the UK."
Our research report 'Audio Visual on Buses' shows that the lack of information on board buses makes blind and partially-sighted people dependent on the help of other passengers or the driver, and they often end up feeling anxious, and vulnerable. Many give up using the bus altogether. No-one should be prevented from using public transport because of a lack of clear and accessible information.
As well as blind and partially-sighted people, 'Talking Buses' will help other people - including the elderly, people with hearing impairments and learning disabilities - by making them feel reassured that clear and timely information is always available. This will also benefit passengers unfamiliar with the area or bus route, including tourists, and people who can't read information screens.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have information about 'talking buses' in your area and how they have helped people, or if you need any help with campaigning.
Alternatively, please call 01189 838 308 and leave a message - we'll phone you back.
Talking Buses Campaign - What are we doing?
Some of the actions we're taking as part of our Talking Buses campaign include:
1. Asking MPs to sign an Early Day Motion, to demonstrate support for our point of view and draw attention to the issue.
2. Running advertisements in government magazines and locations around Westminster.
3. Working with the Department for Transport to explore the feasibility and practical issues of providing AV announcements on buses.
4. Briefing influential transport representatives, including the Shadow Transport Minister.
5. Talking to councils and local authorities, asking them to improve services for local people by demanding that bus operators in their area install AV systems, and providing financial support.
6. Communicating with bus and coach operators, demonstrating how installing AV systems will increase customer satisfaction and encourage more people to use the bus.