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.
We have also been campaigning to ensure that the Bus Services Bill (which is going through parliamentary process in 2016/17) mandates disability awareness training for all bus drivers. (This would bring the UK in line with 2011 EU bus passenger regulations which haven’t been enacted by the UK government, something we have been calling for over the last 4 years.) We are also campaigning for the Bus Bill to include mandating audio announcements on buses.
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 five largest operators, Arriva, First Bus, National Express Bus, Go Ahead and Stagecoach on board, alongside many regional operators.
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.