Andrew Gwynne MP heard about the importance of talking buses at the Labour Party Conference last 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 are buses that provide “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, 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 Denton and Reddish supports Guide Dogs’ proposal to make buses accessible for everyone and will be writing to the Transport Secretary urging him to put a requirement for talking buses in the Bus Services Bill, which is going through Parliament at the moment.
Labour have already made an amendment to the Bill in the House of Lords to put in a requirement for talking buses, saying it is the ideal opportunity to make buses accessible.
Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“I was shocked to learn when speaking with the charity Guide Dogs how often people are left on buses 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.”
James White, Senior Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs, said:
“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.
“To ensure talking buses become the norm across the UK, we are asking politicians like Andrew to use the Bus Services Bill to make sure all new buses are talking buses.”
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association provides independence and freedom to thousands of blind and partially sighted people across the UK through the provision of guide dogs, mobility and other rehabilitation services. It campaigns for the rights of those with visual impairments. Guide Dogs is working towards a society in which blind and partially sighted people enjoy the same freedom of movement as everyone else.
For more information about Guide Dogs and its Talking Buses campaign, contact Jennifer Keen on 01189 838388 or Jennifer.email@example.com