Bill Wiggin MP wants to make bus travel easier for blind and partially sighted people.

Bill Wiggin MP for North Herefordshire joined Guide Dogs in Westminster on Wednesday 2 July in support of the charity’s campaign to make sure all new buses have audio visual (AV) next stop announcements, which are vital for blind and partially sighted bus travellers.

Announcements enable blind and partially sighted people to understand their location and prevent them from missing their stops, but AV systems are only fitted to around one fifth of the bus fleet nationally, with the overwhelming majority of these buses operating in London.

Bill meets a Guide Dog at the Talking Buses Reception
Bill meets a Guide Dog at the Talking Buses Reception

Bill Wiggin MP said: “It was very interesting to hear from Guide Dogs the positive difference AV systems can make to blind and partially sighted people when travelling on buses.

“I understand from Guide Dogs’ team in Herefordshire that there aren’t any buses in the County operating AV systems.

“I am supportive of any initiative that will make using public transport more comfortable for those with disabilities.

“I welcome the action of Ministers in England who have written to bus operators to encourage them to work in partnership with local authorities to see if the uptake of audio-visual systems can be increased on a voluntary basis, but perhaps more could be done.”

Guide Dogs is calling for the Government to require all new buses be fitted with AV, as currently bus operators are under no obligation to include this technology when upgrading their fleet.

James White, Guide Dog’s Campaigns Manager, said: “Buses are a lifeline for people who are blind or partially sighted, and we welcome the support of Bill Wiggin MP for people with sight loss to be able to travel safely and independently.”

“Without AV, bus travel for people with sight loss can be especially difficult, stressful, and dangerous when stops are missed and they end up in an unfamiliar area.

“Safe and accessible bus services give people with sight loss much greater freedom to work, socialise and participate in the community.”