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Out and About: Why Buses Should Announce Their Stops Just Like Trains

For the first three posts in this series, I have focused on how people with disabilities learn to travel. For the remainder of the series I’ll be focusing on more advanced topics, mainly of interest to our disabled readers, relating to travel.

Today’s topic is something many blind people feel very passionately about, which is that despite the fact the technology exists to do so, we do not have a consistent system of stops being announced on our buses, as we do on our trains. This is something that would really benefit blind people and in this post I shall explain why.

On most trains, at every stop you will hear a voice over the speakers announce the stop. This is very useful. In fact, it is so useful that it means that I am able to know when to get off a train independently, but I cannot do the same with a bus. This is because buses do not announce the stops in the same way.

Technology exists that can do this. We have it on trains and in fact we have it on some buses. However, this is highly inconsistent, as it is only on some newer buses.

Furthermore, it is not always consistent on those buses. I was learning a bus route about a year or so ago, which was quite problematic because there was no obvious land mark near the stop where I needed to get off. We thought we had a solution in the fact that there was a bus that did that route that had the machines in that announced stops. However, we got on the bus one day and it was not talking. A passenger informed us that the drivers sometimes turned the machines off. I think this is quite bad, as the technology is in place to help people, so it is wrong if a driver turns it off, because they’re finding it annoying or whatever. Additionally, the machines are not on all of the new buses, so it is a very “luck of the draw” system as to whether you would get on a bus that had one or not.

Now, theoretically, you are supposed to be able to ask the driver to call you at your stop, if you do not know where to get off. However, there are several problems with this. First of all, drivers are often moved around from route to route, so if you say can you tell me when we get to such and such a stop, they may genuinely not know the place you are describing, because it is not their usual route. Secondly, drivers are busy concentrating on the road and often forget. Thirdly, some drivers genuinely don’t care. I have heard of lots of occasions where mobility officers have had conversations with drivers who just haven’t bothered to tell the blind person on the bus when to get off. Because of this, many blind people commonly have to rely on other passengers to tell them when to get off. While I can honestly say that there are some amazing members of the community who help a lot of people, about whom I have heard some amazing stories, that too can have its issues.

That is why, it would be so much easier if we just had a system on bus where all stops were automatically announced, like we do on trains.

The thing is, we have the technology for this. It’s not as though we’re asking for something really advanced, that we simply do not have the technology for. We have the technology to do this, it’s just a case of the government or bus companies investing money into buses for the benefit of disabled people.

What are your thoughts on this issue Please share them in the comments below.

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