New laws in Great Britain will improve accessibility for disabled passengers by requiring local bus and coach services to provide audible announcements and visual displays of route information.
The Department for Transport is providing £4.65 million in funding to support vehicle upgrades for smaller bus and coach companies. The changes will be implemented gradually, with almost all vehicles required to comply by October 2026.
Currently, only 30% of buses outside London offer this information, creating barriers for disabled individuals. The improved information will also benefit non-disabled passengers, providing confidence and ease of travel.
Last March, the then Roads and Accessibility Minister Richard Holden said: “Everyone deserves to take the bus with confidence, and this is a massive boost for passenger independence.
“Simple and effective audible and visible information should be a baked-in feature of a modern bus service to help people reach their destination, wherever they travel in Great Britain.”
The Department for Transport has collaborated extensively with disabled passengers, user groups, and the bus and coach sector to ensure that the information provided is truly valuable. Operators have been granted the freedom to select solutions that best suit their services, thus enhancing the overall effectiveness of the initiative. The implementation of audio-visual aids will encompass the provision of audio through induction loop systems.
Furthermore, starting from October 2024, all newly introduced vehicles must also incorporate visible information that can be easily accessed by wheelchair users occupying rearward facing wheelchair spaces. This commitment to inclusivity and accessibility aims to significantly improve the travel experience for individuals with disabilities, fostering a more inclusive and accommodating transportation system.
Guide Dogs’ Chief Executive, Tom Wright CBE, said last year at the launch: “For so many people, buses are key to opening opportunities to get out independently: to go out to work, get to appointments, and to see friends. But for many people with sight loss, bus travel can prove difficult or near impossible.
“At Guide Dogs, we are delighted that the Government has taken this significant step in making bus travel more accessible to people with a visual impairment. Our research shows that over half of people with sight loss have missed their stop due to a lack of AV, and many people avoid bus travel altogether because buses remain inaccessible.
“Today’s announcement, and the financial support behind it, will open up opportunities for people with sight loss to live independently.”
We are thrilled to share this exciting announcement with you, as it demonstrates the Government's unwavering dedication to enhancing the travel experience for disabled individuals and fostering more inclusive communities.
The Inclusive Transport Strategy is at the forefront of this commitment, aiming to achieve accessibility equality across the entire transport network by 2030. This development is a significant step forward in our mission to encourage people to return to buses post-pandemic, as they have already invested a staggering £2 billion in supporting the bus sector since 2020.
This news story has been produced by Chesil Radio's News Team, for more information please visit: https://www.chesilradio.com