Guide Dogs: Bus Services Bill is accessibility opportunity

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The charity Guide Dogs has said that the upcoming Bus Services Bill is an opportunity to improve accessibility.

The Bill is due to be debated for the first time this week on June 29.

Helen Honsvet, Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, said: “The Bill not only reforms the way that the bus industry is regulated, it provides an opportunity to improve the on-board experience of passengers with sight loss.

“Guide Dogs has long campaigned for bus accessibility to be improved through the introduction of audio-visual (AV) next stop and final destination announcements.”

Helen gave the example of a guide dog owner who was travelling from Bude to Exeter. She had to rely on the driver, who unfortunately told her to get off at the wrong stop, nearly a mile further on. She ended up needing to get a taxi home, though Stagecoach reimbursed her for the taxi fare.

Helen continued: “Talking buses could have avoided this unfortunate situation completely.

“Even with disability equality training for bus drivers, which Stagecoach has said they provide, there is still the possibility of human error. This risks people missing their stop and putting them in a vulnerable situation.

“AV ultimately enables people with sight loss to travel on the bus independently without fear of missing their stop or relying on others. Talking Buses are also beneficial to people using routes for the first time, tourists, older people and other disabled people also benefit from AV announcements.

“The Bus Services Bill is a fantastic opportunity to provide independence to passengers with sight loss and bring the bus sector in line with the rest of the public transport industry.”