MP backs ‘talking bus’ campaign

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Stuart Donaldson is backing the Guide Dogs campaign
West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine MP Stuart Donaldson is backing the Guide Dogs campaign

A North-east politician has backed a campaign to make audio-visual announcements on new buses compulsory.

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine SNP MP Stuart Donaldson is supporting the move by Guide Dogs to make buses accessible for everyone.

The organisation is seeking the introduction of “talking buses” which provide audio-visual “next stop” and “final destination” announcements, and are essential for people with sight loss to live independently.

Mr Donaldson recently met Guide Dogs representatives and hopes to see the improvements made on public transport, in particular buses which serve a large part of his constituency.

Earlier this year the SNP called on the UK Government to ensure all new buses were fitted with the equipment, calling it a “life-changing” move.

The issue was raised at the party conference in Glasgow earlier this month.

As a result of the Guide Dogs’ campaign, the UK Government has acted to include the proposal into the Bus Services Bill.

Mr Donaldson said: “I was shocked to learn when speaking with the charity how often blind people miss their stop because they do not know where they are.

“The Bus Services Bill is the biggest reform of buses since the 1980s so it is a unique opportunity to make sure that blind people can use buses safely too.

“I’m delighted that the UK Government has listened and included talking buses in the bill.”

He added: “Seven in 10 passengers with sight loss have been forgotten on a bus.

“For a sighted person, missing a stop is an annoyance, but for someone with sight loss it is potentially dangerous.”

According to figures, only one fifth of the UK’s buses are equipped with the talking facility, 97% of which are in London.

James White, Guide Dogs’ senior campaigns manager, said: “Talking buses give independence to people with sight loss, enabling them to travel on their own and reducing stress and anxiety.

“They also help other travellers, including tourists and infrequent bus users, to reach their destination safely.

“The UK Government have now recognised the need to roll out talking buses nationwide.

“We are asking politicians like Stuart Donaldson to ensure the government follows through and commits to making talking buses the norm across the UK.”