Buses failing blind, says Guide Dogs

Buses are failing to support the 360,000 blind and partially sighted people in the UK, with only a limited number of buses fitted with audio-visual (AV) technology, according to Guide Dogs. The charity claims 19% of buses have AV technology, with the majority of these (97%) in Greater London. A new survey by the organisation reveals that in a six month period 65% of bus passengers with sight loss miss their stop, with many ending up lost or left in potentially dangerous situations. As part of its Talking Buses campaign, the organisation is calling on the Government to take action and ensure all new buses operating outside London are installed with AV information systems, as recommended by the Transport Select Committee. The charity is also inviting the UK to sign a petition (http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/microsites/guide-dogs-week/get-involved/stand-out-for-talking-buses) in support of the campaign.

According to Guide Dogs, 37% of the blind say they occasionally stay at home instead of travelling by bus and 10% have turned down a job because they did not want to commute by bus. Rather than using the bus many will use a taxi. The charity also claims 84% of the general public believe AV will improve their own experience on buses. It is also expected to assist other groups to gain independence such as older people, those with other disabilities and anyone unfamiliar with a new bus route.

Sarah Champion MP, a member of the Transport Select Committee, said, ‘I believe everyone has the right to fair access to the UK’s transport system and this should be inclusive of the bus network. The installation of AV in buses in London has changed people’s daily lives and we believe the rest of the UK’s bus network should be accessible to all.’

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