Transport CommitteeWritten evidence from Bridget Campbell (DAT 08)

I have just heard the You and Yours Radio 4 feature saying that the Transport Select Committee wants to hear disabled people’s experiences of using public transport.

I think that people with learning disabilities need much more support to be able to use public transport independently.

Most people with a learning disability will never be able to drive their own vehicle and so are reliant on buses or taxis to get themselves around towns and cities.

I am the mother of a 22 year old man with down’s syndrome who is doing quite well at learning to use buses independently but we have found many problems which make it difficult. There is much more that needs to be done to make it easier for people with a learning disability to use buses confidently:

1.Normal bus timetables are really difficult to understand and interpret. I live in Poole and we have been trying to get the local bus companies to produce Easy Read timetables but have been unsuccessful so far. I am sure such timetables would help many other bus users as well as those with learning disabilities.

2.There is talk of introducing on board announcements on buses, as there are on trains. If this is both visual and audio this would help people to feel confident of knowing where they are so they can get off at the right stop.

3.Route maps would be useful on buses (like on the London underground), though I can see that buses may not always be used on the same route so these would need to be changeable.

4.Real time displays at bus stops are useful, if they are reliable. My experience has been that not all the buses are fitted with the tracking system that the real time display needs to use and then the bus “disappears” off the display at its due time whether it has arrived or not, which is very confusing. The person assumes the bus is not coming although it may just be delayed. How do they know whether they should wait or find another way to get to their destination?

5.Bus routes are sometimes far too complicated. We have one route where the bus has the same number but takes 2 different routes to the final destination, so you have to read the “via …” information on the front of the bus as well as the number to be sure the bus goes where you need to go.

On the positive side, we have found the bus drivers to be very helpful and supportive.

More people with learning disabilities want to be independent and cannot afford taxis to get themselves to places all the time, so buses are their solution. Bus companies and local authorities should be making these reasonable adjustments to enable people with a learning disability to access the bus service confidently.

I encourage the select committee to focus on the problems experienced by people with learning disabilities in using public transport. In the past there has been more consideration of the needs of people with physical disabilities and not much thought for those with a learning disability.

November 2012

Prepared 13th September 2013