Many blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted people encounter daily difficulties and problems when using public transport.
Difficulties with bus and coach travel:
- Identifying the stop at which to board
- Identifying the correct departure platform at interchanges/bus stations
- Accessing printed timetabled information at stops (when provided)
- Routes and service numbers of services serving this stop
- Estimated arrival time and destination of the next scheduled service to arrive at the stop
- Knowing when the bus/coach has arrived at the stop (especially when it is a hybrid/electric vehicle)
- Locating the door to enter
- Difficulties in locating and paying fares and obtaining tickets
- Finding a vacant seat
- Knowing when you have reached your destination stop
- Knowing intermediate stops, for location purposes so you know when you are approaching your final stop and can signal to the driver that you want that particular stop
- Being made aware of any unscheduled last minute changes to route and destination and how to get from an unfamiliar stop to your final destination
- Transferring betweens services at interchanges/stations
Additionally there are problems, especially in rural areas over the provision of services during public holidays, weekends and at unsociable hours. The current UK wide unregulated system allows operators to cherry pick profitable routes without any social obligations.
Some local authorities operate a local travel concessionary scheme but many have time restrictions placed on it and exclusions and do not take into account times or costs when we need to be accompanied by a sighted companion. NFBUK campaigns for the introduction of a UK wide free companion travel concession scheme.
Many of these problem and difficulties could be simply eliminated by the provision of on board audible information at stops and during the entire journey from beginning to end.
Difficulties with rail, tram and underground services:
- Finding the station entrance
- Locating the ticket/assistance point
- Problems with unstaffed stations
- Identifying the correct/appropriate platform
- Locating and opening the train carriage doors from the outside in order to board
- Finding a vacant seat
- Knowing when you have reached your destination
- Manoeuvring through and safely exiting unfamiliar transport infrastructures
- Accessing and following printed safety material directions, in the event of an emergency evacuation
Boat and ferry services:
In addition to many of the difficulties and problems mentioned above, when using ferry services we are also faced with the following issues:
- Where the terminal/slipway is unstaffed – identifying and accessing the VDU information monitor, and locating a means to verbally communicate with the nearest staffed terminal
- Ascertaining when and if the vessel is sailing and if so, when etc.
- Locating a waiting shelter
- Locating the slipway/pier to board the vessel
- On board – finding the muster station in the event of an emergency
- On disembarking – exiting from the vessel and attempting safely to leave the pier or terminal
- Finding your onward form of transport
NFBUK campaigns for a sustainable and accessible transport system across the UK. We believe that all blind and partially sighted people should be free to experience and independently use a safe, seamless, stress free journey.