Democratic Unionist Party MP for Strangford, Jim Shannon, is proposing a new parliamentary bill that calls for Audio Visual (AV) technology to be available on all new buses.
The news has been welcomed by the charity Guide Dogs, formally known as Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.
In presenting the Buses (Audio Announcements) Bill, he will outline the need for talking buses explaining why it’s so important for people with sight loss. The Bill will take the form of a Ten Minute Rule Bill, which is an opportunity for a Member of the House of Commons to raise the profile of an important issue.
James White, Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs explained: “Without AV, it’s extremely difficult for bus passengers with sight loss to know when they have reached their stops. Asking the driver is an option, but a Guide Dogs survey found that seven in 10 blind and partially sighted passengers have been forgotten on the bus.”
Jim Shannon will also highlight the wider economic benefits of audio visual announcements to the population as a whole, through making public transport easier and more accessible to everyone and increasing bus usage.
He said: “Audio Visual systems have been installed on all trains in the UK since 1998 yet just 19% of our buses have these systems installed and of these, 97% of them are in London alone.
“A large number of my constituents rely on public transport, particularly as I represent a fairly rural community and many of them have expressed a desire for and support for audio announcements on buses. It is beneficial for those travelling late at night when it is difficult to see the bus stops, as well as for tourists or those who are unfamiliar with a particular area.
“However, unsurprisingly, it is most important for those suffering from sight loss, for whom missing a bus stop can be an extremely scary and daunting experience. This is why I am delighted to be in a position to bring this 10 minute rule motion forward, the change it would bring to so many people would be absolutely fantastic.”