Transport CommitteeWritten evidence from Gordon Forster (DAT 95)

1. I am an active mature male, I was registered blind 14 years ago now having 5% residual vision , I endeavour to travel independently but as I am no longer able to jump in a car public transport has become essential to me and buses are locally available which could get me to many places I require. However buses are inaccessible to me.

2. Every time I use a bus independently I feel I am taking my life in my hands, first of all for a new or infrequently used route I have to acquire the travel information which can be most inaccessible to me, once having this I have to find the bus stop/stand which are never signed in accordance with RNIB recommendations. The next problem is identifying a bus on which I cannot see the number nor the destination boards. I am asking for help throughout the stage so far, now I am in the sole hands of the bas driver whom I explain may difficulties and my requirements including the position of the ticket/pass machine, the response I get varies, sometime it is most helpful other times the driver speaks little English. Because I have no choice I have to ask if I can be told when he drives up to my destination. This is a vain hope as they never seem remember I frequently end up getting off at a later stop and then have to find my way back by bus or otherwise to where I wish to be, it is invariably raining when this happens.

It takes little imagination as how reassuring it would be to hear that the bus I have got on is going is the right route and an announcement telling me that the next stop is that which I require—believe me that is real peace of mind. Trust me this is the case because for most trains I use, this works fine.

3. When I travel by bus it is usually from a bus station where for the most part I can hope for assistance to the correct stand, I am never sure if the bus I want has arrived at the stand so I have to ask the diver if he is on my route. My experience of the assistance I can expect from bus drivers varies but has generally improved over recent years for which I am thankful for visual awareness training they may have had. There is clearly room for urgent improvement especially when I ask to be told I am near my stop. Other issues include information when stopped where to expect the kerb, It also would be a great help if he/she could wait until I can find a seat.

Addendum

It seems to me that the psv regulations which have generally made rail transport more accessible should apply to buses and all other forms of public transport.

May 2013

Prepared 13th September 2013