‘Have your say on transport’ Gloucestershire forum

Gloucestershire Sight Loss Council’s visual impairment (VI) forum took place on Tuesday 26 July at Gloucester Rugby club. The theme was accessible transport.

Each Sight Loss Council organises two VI forums a year. Anyone with a visual impairment in the area is invited to hear about and discuss a major issue of interest to blind or partially sighted people.

 

Alun Davies, Engagement manager for Gloucestershire speaking at the Make Transport Accessible forum. He is standing up, talking into a microphone. He is wearing a short sleeve, pale pink shirt and black trousers. Behind him are framed photographs of rugby players on the wall.

Alun Davies, Engagement Manager Gloucestershire Sight Loss Council

 

Our first speaker was James Williams, Operations Manager at Stagecoach Buses in Gloucester. The audience asked James Williams questions about many challenges with the bus service. James Williams apologised for all the challenges, explaining it was due to driver shortage.

He said that all new buses coming to Stagecoach will have audio announcements on them. He also explained about the training drivers receive which includes VI awareness.

Emma Shibley and Jonathan Roberts from Gloucestershire County Council then spoke about the Council’s responsibilities for issues such as shared surfaces, cycleways and bus stops.

Members of the audience raised real concerns about shared surfaces in terms of how they can be unsafe for blind and partially sighted people. They also raised concerns about how many road crossings are now more challenging because of the removal of audio alerts.

The third speaker was Tom Law from Great Western Railways. Tom explained about the changes going on in the industry. This includes the setting-up of Great British Rail. He also talked about support available for disabled people.

Image shows guests speakers sitting at a table, looking forwards to the audience. From left to right: Tom Law from Great Western Rail,,Sight Loss Council member Ann Lightfoot, James Williams from Stagecoach buses, and Jonathan Roberts from Gloucestershire County Council.

Left to Right: Tom Law from Great Western Railways, Sight Loss Council member Ann Lightfoot, James Williams, Operations Manager, from Stagecoach Buses and Jonathan Roberts from Gloucestershire County Council.

 

Members of the audience raised issues about the amount of time access changes were taking at Gloucester station, and about the signage on the sides of the trains.

Ann Lightfoot, a member of the Gloucestershire Sight Loss Council who chaired the forum, said:

“In all our work with people who are blind or partially sighted in Gloucestershire, transport always comes up as a very important issue. It was great to see so many people at today’s meeting. I think the messages the speakers heard were that public transport is especially vital to people with a visual impairment. Everyone involved in transport needs to be aware of and respond to the needs we have. I’d like to thank our speakers for their continuing interest and cooperation”.

Learn more about Gloucestershire Sight Loss Council

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