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Budget 2015: Tackling barriers to work with a fund for talking buses

Budget 2015: Tackling barriers to work with a fund for talking buses

Guide Dogs

2 min read Partner content

The charity Guide Dogs says government initiatives to get more disabled people into work will flounder if the transport remains inaccessible.

Guide Dogs is calling on the Chancellor to introduce a specific fund for talking buses, audio-visual announcements (AV) on bus services in the UK to make them accessible to all. AV on buses increase the mobility and independence of people with sight loss, increase bus patronage and have a range of benefits in areas vital to economic growth, namely employment, tourism and the environment.

People with vision impairments are unable to drive and so rely upon public transport to live independently, find employment and avoid social isolation. A Department for Work and Pensions survey showed that 37% of disabled respondents found transport accessibility a significant barrier to work – government initiatives to get more disabled people into work will flounder if the transport people need to get them there remains inaccessible.

It is not just people with sight loss who benefit from talking buses, they also benefit people with other disabilities, non-disabled people, tourists, and anybody who doesn’t use the bus frequently. Talking buses would increase the numbers of people using the bus across the country. A Guide Dogs survey found that 46% of respondents would use the bus more frequently if they had AV, and in 2013 Arriva saw their patronage grow by 9% in just three months after introducing their new premium talking Sapphire buses. Each additional passenger on the bus could be a driver choosing to leave their car at home and take the bus instead – meaning less congestion and less emissions.

For visitors to an area, local talking buses are a huge advantage, meaning that an effective and accessible transport system can encourage tourism in a locality. Research by Capability Scotland found that “poor public transport is a significant barrier to travel and tourism”

It could cost as little as £5.75 million per year to fit all new buses in the UK with AV. This is a drop in the ocean compared to the total budget – and the economic and social benefits would far outweigh this cost. To help people with sight loss and to reinvigorate the bus industry, we hope this budget will be a talking buses budget.

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