Access barriers to buses have to be fixed. Our "Stop for me, Speak to me" bus campaign aims to secure major progress from bus operators on the crucial issues.
Blind and partially sighted people experience some fundamental barriers when attempting to use bus services. From bus drivers not stopping for them at bus stops, to bad communication once on board. In many cases these problems can be overcome if drivers have a better awareness of the problems blind and partially sighted people face.
A major aspect of our campaign is to improve awareness amongst bus drivers and bus operation staff at all levels, through training lead by campaigners called "Swap With Me" events. At these sessions, campaigners talk to bus drivers about what would make the service better, and bus drivers themselves wear sim-specs while trying to board a bus to understand a little more about the challenges that can present themselves when you have a sight condition.
Also, in 2011 the EU passed legislation that increased rights for disabled bus passengers, including mandatory disability awareness training for drivers. The UK Government, however has delayed implementing the disability awareness training aspect of this legislation. Although a review was undertaken during 2014 this piece of the legislation still has not been enacted. Almost 300 of our campaigners wrote to the Minister for Transport to tell her how important it is that this vital legislation is introduced.
Our bus charter
As a result of our campaigning we've created a "We're On Board" bus charter that sets out a list of commitments that we want bus operators to agree to. We believe the points covered in the charter will help improve travel for blind and partially sighted people. We want to encourage as many bus operators as possible to sign up to our charter and make real improvements. With the UK's two largest operators, First Bus and Stagecoach on board, alongside many smaller operators, our campaign is going from strength to strength.
Have things improved?
We ran a survey to find out if bus travel has improved for blind and partially sighted people during the summer of 2014. There were some pleasant surprises as well as some areas which still need improvement.
How campaigners have made a difference
Our campaigners have worked tirelessly on this campaign, attending Swap With Me events, taking mystery shopping journeys, enlisting the help of their local MPs and transport executives and councillors, as well as using social media to raise their concerns, and promote good news stories. It's vital bus operators are made aware of poor service. Why not do a mystery shop yourself and gather evidence on how a bus operator is doing. You can then share this with us and the company concerned.