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NATIONAL blind charity Guide Dogs has launched a campaign to get audio and visual information on board all buses and coaches in the UK.

The charity says that ’talking buses’ that give clear audible and visible announcements about the next stop and final destination will help disabled and elderly people to use buses and coaches safely and with confidence.
 
Guide Dogs’ campaigns manager David Cowdrey said: “The law requires new trains and trams to have audio-visual (AV) information systems – but not buses and coaches.THE Equality and Human Rights Commission has appointed Mike Smith as the new chair of its Disability Committee.

“The lack of information on board makes bus travel less accessible than rail travel. It’s time for the bus to catch up!

“Lack of AV information undermines the independence of many people who rely on bus services to get around.”

Guide Dogs’ research into disabled people’s views and experiences of bus travel shows they often feel anxious and vulnerable, and depend on others to find the right stop.

Many give up using buses altogether.

Mrs Nora Green from Seaham in County Durham, who is partially-sighted, said: “I have to ask the driver to tell me when to get off and they don’t always remember.

“I keep ending up in the depot or dropped off at the wrong stop.

“I get so distressed, and just don’t want to get the bus any more, but I have to.

“A bus should give me my independence, not take it away. Please introduce ‘talking buses’ so we all know where we are.”

Companies including Transport for London, Trent Barton Buses (Nottingham and Leicester) and Thamesdown Transport (Swindon) have successfully rolled out AV systems on their buses, and report that customer satisfaction levels have risen substantially.

Guide Dogs is lobbying the government to amend the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations, briefing key MPs and reminding them of their responsibility to make public transport accessible to everyone.

It is encouraging supporters to contact their local MP, asking them to sign Early Day Motion (EDM) 506 supporting the campaign, and to write to Sadiq Khan MP, the Minister responsible for public transport.

You can do this via the Guide Dogs website at

www.guidedogs.org.uk/talkingbuses