Bus Services Bill [HL]

Written evidence submitted by Gordon Forster (BSB 05)

Bus Services Bill 2017.


This evidence is in support of the amendment from the House of Lords requiring buses to have ‘Next Stop‘ and ‘This Stop’ audible announcements as well as all bus drivers being properly ‘awareness trained’, which for me will address one equality issue.

Detailed submission

1 My circumstances

1.1 I was registered partially sighted in 1999 then registered blind in 2004.

1.2 My 5% residual vision enables me to see a bus when it is very near but have to confirm its route before embarking.

1.3 I give talks about disability accessibility around this area

2 My Bus experience and evidence

2.1 I always used to ask the driver to tell me when I reach my stop but gave up as these requests were always forgotten and I now mostly rely on information from passengers but this can often be unreliable. On some routes I use I am occasionally able to get clues about my location but never in the dark, heavy rain or when the bus windows are obstructed with adverts or dirt.

2.2 None of the routes I use currently have audible announcements


2.3 I have twice been dropped off in strange locations because of unhelpful information which is most alarming and both proved most difficult to resolve and I felt most vulnerable.

2.4 Of the routes and bus stations I use frequently the operators claim their drivers have received visual awareness training which for the most part I consider is satisfactory but I came across one driver who, when I asked his route would not speak at all.

3. Factual and opinion.

3.1 I find the announcements now on trains a satisfactory solution whether pre-recorded, synthetic or human voice.

3.2 There was a major change in bus construction following the wheelchair user’s protests but despite there being more visually impaired people our independent travelling blind people have generally been ignored. A clear case of equality discrimination.

3.3 Bus companies have been asked to do this voluntarily. A previous transport minister wrote to bus operators to encourage them to increase AV uptake on a voluntary basis and last year Guide Dogs handed in a petition signed by nearly 30,000 people asking the Big 5 bus companies to make all their new buses talking buses but response is poor.

3.4 Only London has busses which are mostly accessible to me.

4. My involvement in resolving this serious situation.

4.1 Whilst being an active member of local and national associations of the blind I have also contributed to our regional transport organization of the blind ‘NEAT’ (North East Action on Transport) where our priority concerns are audio visual ‘on bus’ information, and adequate awareness training for bus drivers followed by accessible time table and bus stand announcements

8 March 2017


Prepared 15th March 2017