A good bus service is very important for people with sight problems but a good bus service extends far beyond the frequency and timetable reliability of buses. Blind and partially sighted people need to know that a bus will stop for them if they are stood at a bus stop, when they get on the bus they need good communication from the driver and for many people, they may need a bit more time to find a seat. They may also need the driver to tell them when they are at the stop where they want to get off.
Whilst the vast majority of bus drivers give an excellent service there are levels of inconsistency which cause blind and partially sighted bus travellers to be unsure what level of service they will experience when they use buses. After engaging with both Stagecoach and First at regional director level in conjunction with Tracy Dearing, RNIB’s Regional Campaigns Co-ordinator, at the end of June “Stop for Me, Speak to Me” events were organised at the Sheffield depots of both Stagecoach and First. At these events staff from the bus operators across South Yorkshire, which included regional directors, depot managers, training managers, mentors, drivers and trainee drivers, had the opportunity to meet with blind and partially sighted people who explained the challenges they face when using buses. The bus staff also wore simulation spectacles to give an idea of the effect of different eye conditions. The blind and partially sighted people had the opportunity to sit in the drivers cab where drivers explained their responsibilities and the challenges they face when driving the bus, taking passengers on board, checking passes etc.
Both events were a great success with bus staff and blind/partially sighted people learning a lot from each other, as well as having some fun. The only disappointment for a few blind and partially sighted people was that they weren’t allowed to drive the bus!
Thanks to both Stagecoach and First for holding these events and joining in with such enthusiasm.
SRSB now has better contacts with Depot Managers to feedback compliments and any complaints to the bus operators in a timely manner. Anybody with feedback from across the city should telephone Patrick at SRSB.