Gavin Newlands MP heard about the importance of audio-visual announcements on buses at the SNP Party Conference this week.
He heard about the experiences of a guide dog owner who had missed their stop and been left stranded on a bus because they were unable to know where on the route they were.
Sadly, this is not an isolated experience: 7 in 10 passengers with sight loss have been forgotten on a bus. Talking buses, which provide audio-visual “next stop” and “final destination” announcements, are essential for people with sight loss to live independently. Worryingly, only one fifth of the UK’s buses are talking buses, 97% of which are in London. For a sighted person, missing a stop is an annoyance, but for someone with sight loss, it is potentially dangerous.
The MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North supports Guide Dogs’ proposal to make buses accessible for everyone. Earlier this year the SNP called on the UK government to make sure all new buses are talking buses, calling it a “life-changing” move. As a result of Guide Dogs’ campaign, the UK government has acted to include this proposal into the Bus Services Bill.
Gavin Newlands MP commented:
“I was shocked to learn when speaking with the charity Guide Dogs how often blind people miss their stop because they do not know where they are. The Bus Services Bill is the biggest reform of buses since the 1980s so it is a unique opportunity to make sure that blind people can use buses safely too. I’m delighted that the UK government has listened and included talking buses in the bill”
James White, Senior Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, commented:
“Talking buses give independence to people with sight loss, enabling them to travel on their own and reducing stress and anxiety. They also help other travellers including tourists and infrequent bus users to reach their destination safely.
“The UK government have now recognised the need to roll out talking buses nationwide. We are asking politicians like Gavin Newlands to ensure they follow through and commit to making talking buses the norm across the UK.”