Buses not catering for the blind

Blind and partially sighted people in Scotland are being cut off from family and friends, missing vital appointments and forced to turn down jobs because buses do not cater for their needs.

The Road to Nowhere Survey by Guide Dogs reveals that 94 per cent of people with sight loss in Scotland say they are unable to enjoy the freedom that others take for granted because they find travelling by bus so difficult.

Some 84 per cent have been put off visiting friends and family and 79 per cent have missed out on social occasions. Audio announcements on buses make a huge difference to passengers with sight loss.

Guide Dogs wants all buses to be ‘Talking Buses’, which announces bus routes, destinations and next stops. They also want more training for bus drivers, so they know how to support the blind and partially sighted.

Angus guide dog owner Marjory Hughes said: “I find bus travel quite stressful and can’t relax for fear of missing my stop. It makes further travel difficult as I have missed train connections regularly because I’ve got off at the wrong stop. And when waiting at bus stops I can’t relax because I don’t know which bus is coming.”

The Road to Nowhere survey found that being excluded from bus travel has a clear knock on effect for the health and employment prospects of people with sight loss across the country.

More than one in three said the prospect of travelling by bus had put them off attending medical appointments, 34 per cent had been made late for work and 14 per cent said it had prevented them from taking a job.

There are other financial implications too; nearly one in three blind and partially sighted people spend up to £30 a month on taxis rather than take the bus.