Transport Minister, Edwina Hart, has launched a new guide, created by two leading sight loss charities, to improve bus travel in Wales for people with sight loss.
RNIB Cymru and Guide Dogs Cymru were commissioned by the Welsh Government to write “Get on board”, which contains guidance for service commissioners and bus companies on how to meet the needs of blind and partially sighted people when they travel on buses.
The Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, Edwina Hart, said: “In Wales, the bus network is of particular importance in rural areas and parts of the country not served by rail. I am confident that this guidance will make a valuable contribution to improving access to public transport and meeting our wider objectives to improve opportunities for independent living across Wales”.
Ceri Jackson, Director of RNIB Cymru, said: “Bus travel is a vital service for people with sight loss but all too often they have a poor or even frightening experience which leads to some people stopping using buses altogether. This can lead to isolation and lack of confidence and prevents people with sight loss from living an independent life”.
“Get on board” includes guidance how to make bus stops and timetables accessible; advice on training drivers and how to include people with sight loss in planning, delivering and monitoring bus services.
Jonathan Mudd, head of services for Guide Dogs Cymru, said: “There are over 115,000 people with sight loss in Wales and they need buses to maintain their independence. Last year, 89 per cent of blind and partially sighted people missed their stop because they didn’t know when to get off. We hope this guide will reinforce the importance of training drivers to offer support to people with sight loss and encourage bus operators to install next stop audio visual announcements on all their buses”.
“Get on board” will be launched with the support of Cardiff Bus who have worked with RNIB Cymru to improve their service for people with sight loss, for instance by training drivers and introducing audio announcements on new vehicles.
Simon Mohammad, Head of Operations for Cardiff Bus, said: “We value working with RNIB Cymru and have gained a better understanding of the obstacles our blind and partially sighted customers face when catching a bus. Some great lessons were shared which I’m confident will improve the service for everyone”.