East Lothian bus operator joins others in pledge to make services more accessible

Post date: 
Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Prentice Coaches has become the latest Scottish transport company to pledge to make its services more accessible to blind and partially sighted people.

The award-winning Haddington-based operator will today sign up to a charter from sight loss charity RNIB Scotland that commits it to meeting the needs of passengers with a visual impairment.

This includes approaching bus stops more slowly so people have time to make out the number and route, not pulling away from stops before passengers with sight loss have found a seat, and letting them know when they arrive at their destination.

Prentice Coaches operates has ten buses connecting five routes between East Lothian and Edinburgh. The company won the 'Top Independent Bus Operator' at the 2016 UK Bus Awards.

At today's RNIB bus charter signing event, drivers will get a chance to wear special 'sim specs' that simulate different eye conditions and experience first-hand the barriers that blind and partially sighted customers face when travelling.

Ken Reid (57) from North Berwick, a RNIB Scotland member who lost his sight in his 20s, said: "It's great news that an East Lothian bus operator will sign up to our charter. Bus travel can be a life-line for blind and partially sighted people, especially in a more rural area. Often, they are the ones who rely on buses most because they are unable to drive and taxis are too expensive for everyday journeys. But many of our members say they sometimes have difficulty in using some services.

"We think if drivers are more aware of the problems people with sight loss face they will take that extra bit of time to ensure they can make their journey confidently."

Ross Prentice, managing director of Prentice coaches, said: "We believe our bus services should be accessible to everyone, whether they have a disability or not. We were already doing everything asked in the RNIB Bus Charter, and already have regular customers with sight impairments, so it made perfect sense to sign up and help publicise the charter."

There are around 170,000 people in Scotland with significant sight loss, a number likely to increase in the next two decades due to our ageing population.