£4.65m for smaller operators to roll out AV information

News stories are free to read. Click here for full access to all the features, articles and archive from only £8.99.

The Government is encouraging operators to apply for the funding which will help to roll out audio and visual information provision for smaller operators

Disabled passengers will be able to navigate buses with greater ease thanks to funding being made available to roll out audible and visual announcements on buses throughout Great Britain. Applications opened on 8 April for small coach and bus operators to bid for a share of £4.65 million to install new audio-visual technology that will both display and announce information clearly for all passengers, including those with sight and hearing impairments.

Known as the Accessible Information Grant, the funding will support small operators to fit screens, speakers and induction loops to allow all passengers to be equally informed about their journey.

The grant supports regulations which were introduced last year requiring all bus operators to provide audio and visual updates on journeys. Guy Opperman, Minister for Accessibility and Ministerial Disability Champion at the Department for Transport, said: “Buses are the most used form of public transport in the country, and for people who are disabled they may be the only way to meet friends and family, attend medical appointments or get to work.

“I can only imagine how daunting it must be to get on a bus and not know for certain where it’s going or when to get off, which is why we introduced new rules to ensure all buses provide this information in an accessible way. This £4.65 million is the extra push to give operators the tools to upgrade their buses on time and ensure all passengers can board with confidence.”

The Government expects that the funding will help ensure that all operators are able to meet that October 2026 deadline for the provision of audio-visual information on board.

Commenting on the announcement, Pete Osborne, Deputy CEO at Guide Dogs, said: “Accessible buses can unlock opportunities to get around independently, whether that’s to travel to work, go shopping or see friends. But for many people with sight loss, bus travel has been difficult or impossible because of a lack of audio next stop and final destination announcements. After years of campaigning, we were delighted with the new regulations announcement last year and we greatly welcome the opening of these grants. AV announcements on buses will be a significant step forward in creating a more inclusive and accessible transport network, helping people live the lives they choose.”

Right to Ride

The Government recently published the ‘Right to Ride’ guide alongside disability equality charity Scope, a document which aims to help disabled people and others with reduced mobility when using bus, coach, taxi, private hire vehicles and rail services by compiling helpful travel information together in one document.

‘Right to Ride’ explains the actions a disabled person can take when a journey has been disrupted or the assistance provided is unsatisfactory or has failed, providing guidance on their rights as well as what to expect in terms of assistance and accessibility, how to make a complaint if travel does not go as planned and how to claim compensation or redress if necessary.

Scope Chief Executive Mark Hodgkinson said: “Disabled people have been campaigning for many years to make public transport more accessible. We know that disabled passengers are often let down by poor customer service, inaccessible transport and a lack of up-to-date information. When things go wrong it can often have a big impact and be hard to know what your rights are to put things right.

“The Right to Ride document is a significant step forward in providing disabled people with more clarity and transparency over their rights and what to expect when travelling on public transport. We want transport companies to listen to their disabled customers and make travel more accessible for all.”