£5.75m investment in ‘talking buses’ will stimulate UK economy
Including a specific fund in the 2015 Spending Review to fit all new buses with AV technology will revitalize the bus industry, help disabled people into work, and stimulate the wider economy, says Guide Dogs.
Blind and partially sighted people are reliant on buses for mobility and freedom, and yet without audio-visual next stop and final destination announcements (AV), buses are not accessible to people with sight loss.
In spite of this reliance, only 19% of buses provide AV for passengers, and the vast majority of these are in London. This means that passengers with sight loss and other disabilities across the UK are reliant on a service that is not suited to their needs, leaving them with diminished access to work, travel and other opportunities that people without disabilities can take for granted.
It is for this reason that Guide Dogs is calling on the Government to include a dedicated fund to ensure that all new buses are fitted with AV technology in the 2015 Spending Review, as part of its commitment to improve access to work and leisure opportunities for people with disabilities.
An accessible public transport system is essential to getting people into employment, particularly disabled people. A Department for Work and Pensions survey showed 37% of disabled respondents found transport accessibility a significant barrier to work. A specific fund for AV on new buses would be a huge step towards addressing this discrepancy.
As well as disabled travellers AV provides benefits to non-disabled people. Trent Barton bus company found that 85% of all passengers find AV on their buses useful, while in 2013, Arriva saw a 9% patronage growth in the first three months after introducing their new premium Sapphire buses which were fitted with AV (along with other improvements such as Wi-Fi).
AV systems are an affordable and vital step towards an accessible transport system, providing benefits to all bus passengers and providing an essential route to independence and mobility for people with sight loss.
Guide Dogs is calling on the Government to include a specific fund in the 2015 Spending Review to ensure all new buses are fitted with AV technology.