Bus companies will continue to fail their blind and partially sighted passengers until they all have audio announcements, according to a survey carried out by Guide Dogs. Entitled ‘The Road to Nowhere’, the charity’s research suggests blind and partially sighted people are loosing out on important opportunities because buses do not cater for their needs. The organisation claims the Government must regulate to make audio visual technology on buses mandatory. Guide Dogs has also called on local transport authorities and bus operators in England who are applying to become Better Bus Areas to include the cost of installing this technology in their submissions.
Guide Dogs’ survey found that 80% of people with sight loss say they are unable to enjoy the freedom that others take for granted because they find travelling by bus difficult. 72% have been put off visiting friends and family and almost two thirds have missed out on social occasions. The research also suggested driver training is required. The study found 54% of respondents had missed their bus stop because drivers refused to agree to tell them when they reached their destination. Of those surveyed, 35% said the prospect of travelling by bus had put them off attending doctors or hospital appointments, 34% had been made late for work and 14% said it had prevented them from taking a job. Nearly one in three blind and partially sighted people spend up to £30 a month on taxis rather than take the bus.
Guide Dogs Chief Executive, Richard Leaman, said, ‘Buses are a vital way for people with sight loss to get out and about freely and independently, but many feel excluded from bus travel because of a lack of accessible information. At present there is inconsistency within and between bus companies, which means some routes in some areas are fitted with audio visual technology but, on many buses, passengers who are visually impaired have no help at all. We call on the Government to regulate to ensure that all buses are Talking Buses.’
Stagecoach London has re-launched its ‘Spirit of London’ bus that was damaged in an arson attack last year. The pioneer ADL Enviro400 has undergone £60,000 worth of repair and refurbishment work. The bus was originally launched in October 2005 to replace the double decker destroyed in the London 7/7 bombings. The vehicle was ruined by two arsonists in October 2012, resulting in substantial destruction to the upper deck. Despite the damage, the operator took the decision to repair the bus rather than replace it, due to the symbolic importance of the vehicle. The re-launch took place at the London Bus Museum in Weybridge and was attended by Stagecoach London MD, Mark Threapleton; TfL MD of Surface Transport, Leon Daniels and the driver of the original bus on 7 July 2005, George Psaradakis. The bus will operate on route 55 in East London and will be based at Leyton garage. Mark Threapleton said, ‘The upper deck of the bus was almost completely burnt so it has taken a lot of work to get it back into service. However, there was never any question of us retiring the bus, we have always been committed to refurbishing it to ensure it remains a fitting tribute to the 13 people who lost their lives when the original bus was destroyed in 2005.’
Greener Journeys has announced the first ever Catch the Bus Week, a national campaign aimed at increasing awareness of the benefits of bus travel across the UK, as well as encouraging infrequent users to use the bus more often. It will run from 29 April to 5 May. The initiative has gained support from Transport Secretary, Norman Baker. Activities during the week include a number of ticket giveaways by Stagecoach and special offers from the Go-Ahead Group. Arriva is offering a free Day or Family Day Saver ticket when buying an m-ticket on mobiles during the week.
Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, Claire Haigh, said, ‘Since 2010 Greener Journeys has been striving to take one billion car journeys off the road and Catch the Bus Week will help us reach this aim. Buses play a crucial role in our society from getting children to school, carrying people to work, the shops or to their local park or swimming pool day in day out. Buses support the economy. This campaign will be a springboard for greater public attention of the buses many benefits and I hope will encourage both car drivers and infrequent bus users to give the bus a try. I am delighted to be launching such an important campaign.’
Arriva has launched 12 new Wrightbus Gemini bodied Volvo B9TL electric hybrids for services between Leeds, Garforth, Kippax and Castleford, as well as ten to operate from Blyth and Whitley Bay along the Coast Road to Newcastle. Dubbed ‘Frankenbuses’, their launch was supported by an online video marketing campaign entitled ‘It’s alive, it’s electric’. Representing an investment of £6m, they were purchased with help from the Green Bus Fund.
Regional MD for Arriva Yorkshire and Arriva North East, Nigel Featham, said, ‘This investment is great news for our customers and we’re delighted to be investing in this 21st century technology. Hopefully it will also encourage more people to jump on board and make more journeys by bus.’
trentbarton is to hold its Big 100th Birthday Party on 26 May at its Langley Mill depot. Free transport from Derby and Nottingham will be operated using its collection of vintage buses. There will be more heritage vehicles on display at the company’s depot during the event, alongside modern buses, live music and funfair rides. There will also be behind the scenes tours of the workshop. The operator will be collecting for the Lewis Mighty charity during the day.
Cyberlyne Communications Ltd (CCL) has raised money for the Transport Benevolent Fund by undertaking a bike ride. They rode from their home town of Bishop Auckland to Blackpool, a gruelling 120 miles. Visit http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/ccl to donate.
National Express has unveiled the Caetano Levantes for its new A1 service. The vehicles form part of a 22 strong fleet that will run between London Luton Airport and Victoria Coach Station following a new agreement between the operator and the airport. Operational from 1 May, the new daily service will mean faster journey times, more frequent services and more seats available at peak times for passengers getting to and from the airport. Its enhanced timetable has been specially engineered around flight times. At peak, coaches are timetabled to run every ten minutes, with 150 services travelling to and from the airport each day. On board features on this service include toilets, free wi-fi, power sockets, business class legroom and CCTV.