Getting off at the right bus stop is like “playing a game of chance”, says guide dog owner Linda about her experiences navigating the bus network without sight, and Alex Cunningham has responded by calling for action to make travelling by bus easier for people with sight loss.
The Stockton North MP got a chance to experience for himself why people with sight loss need audio-visual next stop announcements (AV) on buses through playing a memory game at the Labour Party conference last week, and has renewed his call for all new buses to be fitted with AV.
AV is essential for people with sight loss to live independently, yet only one fifth of the UK’s buses have AV. Without AV, bus passengers with sight loss have to ask the driver to remember to tell them when they have reached their stop.
Finding out more about Guide Dogs’ work, the Labour MP heard that 7 in 10 bus passengers with sight loss have been forgotten by a bus driver. For a sighted person, missing a stop is an annoyance, but for someone with sight loss it is potentially very dangerous.
And AV doesn’t just help people with sight loss – tourists, older people and infrequent bus users all find AV useful. Guide Dogs released their Destination Unknown report this September showing that nearly half of survey respondents said they would use the bus more frequently if they were fitted with AV.
“Remembering the journeys at Guide Dogs’ conference stand was a great way of emphasising how difficult it is for a bus driver to always remember to tell people when to get off. The Government has not taken action on this important issue – AV is such a simple and cheap solution and would ensure access for all to public transport that is so vital to people’s everyday lives.”
James White, Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs commented: “Guide dogs do fantastic work getting people out and about safely, and the lack of AV acts as a real barrier to their independence. That’s why we’re urging politicians like Alex to call for the mandatory installation of AV on buses – something that is cheap to do.”