Making transport accessible in the West of England
Sight Loss Councils are working to improve the experience of blind and partially sighted bus passengers across the West of England.
First Bus in Bristol
On Saturday, 30 April, in partnership with Bristol Sight Loss Council, First Bus held its second “Meet The Bus” event at the Laurence Hill depot in Bristol, where seven different models of buses were available, with plenty of staff around to support and answer questions. Several blind and partially sighted people attended, including families with young children and people.
Chris Hanson, Operations Director at First West of England, said:
“Our number one priority is that every customer feels safe and comfortable when travelling on our buses. Public transport can present challenges for those travelling with a disability, and First West of England is keen to ensure that all customers know how they can access our services.”
Alun Davies, Engagement Manager for the West of England, said:
“The past two years have been exceptionally challenging for bus providers and blind and partially sighted people, so it is extremely encouraging that bus providers are keen to organise these events.”
Stagecoach in Gloucestershire
On Friday 20 May, in partnership with Gloucestershire Sight Loss Council, Stagecoach West organised their first ‘Meet the Bus’ event at the hub in Gloucester. Blind and partially sighted visitors got the chance to familiarise themselves with a bus layout, speak to drivers and training managers about their experiences and discuss how changes can be made to improve the accessibility of buses in Gloucestershire.
Rachel Geliamassi, Managing Director, Stagecoach West, said:
“We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our service for all of our customers and to remain as accessible and inclusive as we can. This is a great opportunity to meet our customers, gain valuable feedback and see where we can improve.”
SLC member Wayne Hands said:
“Meeting the guys from Stagecoach West at Gloucester Transport Hub was really enlightening. Lenny and James were really helpful, answered all our questions, gave advice to partially sighted and blind bus users and explained some of the difficulties that Stagecoach had endured following COVID-19. They explained about how the company had made sure disability awareness was a key component of every driver’s induction process and what visually impaired and other disabled people should expect when using the bus service. People are quick to complain about a late bus, cancelled service or grumpy faced driver but rarely stop to think about why these things sometimes happen. Operations manager, James was able to put our minds at rest that these incidents are hopefully few and far between and cancellations are not done unless there is no other option.
I attended the event as a member of the SLC, but I also brought my disabled mother, visually impaired brother and his 3-year-old guide dog Fergie. They both said they enjoyed the day and Fergie was very content on the bus along with 2 other guide-dogs. James was quite taken aback at how well behaved all 3 dogs were whilst on board.”