MP for Aberdeen South, Dame Anne Begg spoke out in support of Guide Dogs’ Talking Buses campaign in a debate on disabled access to public transport.
During the debate, Dame Anne highlighted the need to ensure buses are accessible for blind and partially sighted people through the installation of audio visual announcement (AV) technology.
Guide Dogs’ 2013 Road to Nowhere report showed that 89% of blind and partially sighted passengers have missed their stop because of the lack of AV and the Transport Select Committee recommended the installation of AV announcements in their report into Disabled Access to Transport. However, the Government has since ruled this out.
A long term supporter of the Talking Buses campaign, Dame Anne highlighted her disappointment during the debate that the Government’s response had been that there was no economic case for audio-visual systems stating that “it is not just disabled people but tourists and those who are unfamiliar with a bus route that benefit from the speaking buses.”
Dame Anne also commented: “This is an issue which a number of my constituents have contacted me about and, having used the talking buses in London, I am aware of the benefits they could have in Aberdeen.
“I have also raised this issue with transport leaders in Aberdeen and I will continue to lobby the Government to see the implementation of AV technology on all new buses.”
Aberdeen South resident and Guide Dogs’ supporter, Mary Rasmussen was one of the constituents who contacted Anne in support of AV technology. She stated: “Talking Buses make a huge difference to blind and partially sighted people. They are the difference between getting off at the wrong stop and having to cross a dual carriageway with no knowledge of where the crossing is. This is extremely dangerous and potentially life threatening.”
Talking Buses have the potential to transform the lives of blind and partially sighted people who were shown to have routinely missed hospital appointments, job opportunities and family occasions due to a lack of talking buses.