It’s time Cambridge caught up with other cities and has audio announcements on buses, says city MP Daniel Zeichner. The MP for Cambridge, and local Guide Dog members will next week (Monday 2 July) take a bus during Catch the Bus week to highlight the importance of bus companies implementing audio displays for the visually impaired. Mr Zeichner and guests, will join Managing Director of Whippet, Charlie Hamilton, to see first hand what the company is doing to improve user accessibility for the disabled.
The 6th annual Catch the Bus week will be running from July 2nd to July 8th, with operators across the country hosting public information sessions and events to help promote bus travel to non-bus users. For those that are visually impaired, travelling by bus can be an extremely difficult and challenging experience that leads to many deciding to avoid the experience altogether. This can result in people then becoming isolated and unable to connect with their local community.
Mr Zeichner says: “Bus transport is a lifeline for many disabled people as their ability to get around a town or city can be seriously limited. That is why it is so important that bus companies appropriately fit out their fleets to ensure that they do not hinder people with a disability from using this public mode of transport.”
“All bus operators will need to make their buses accessible to disabled people by 2020, which would include implementing visual and audio aids so anyone can identify what stop they are at. Many bus operators across the country are yet to make these updates however I am glad to know that Whippet are getting ahead and ensuring their buses are accessible to everyone. It is the right thing to do and will help more people onto the bus, which for me is still one of the best forms of transport available to Cambridge.“
“It is great that we have so many people joining us this morning to celebrate Catch the Bus week. I want to see more people opting for the bus, but of course reliability is an issue for many users in Cambridge, as well as price. I encourage people to swap their car for a bus this week – with the right services in place it can be quicker, cheaper, free up time, and cut pollution.“
Charlie Hamilton, the Managing Director of Whippet, said: “Whippet Coaches having been providing vital transport services to the community for 99 years, and we look forward to the next 99. We understand that accessibility to all should be a right, not a privilege, which is why we are ahead of the legal requirements, and getting our fleet upgraded before the law requires us to. Many services across the country have seen declining passengers, and we believe that engaging with the community, and providing these basic functions we can encourage more passengers to use the services, which will reduce the number of private use vehicles on the road and improve reliability – a self-improving cycle. These changes are expensive and unfortunately a lot of the services in Cambridgeshire are not commercial viable, and we encourage the Mayor to use his powers under the Bus Services Act to mandate the service levels and routes across the region to deliver a better network for the community.”
Daniel Zeichner, was heavily involved in taking through the 2017 Bus Servicers Act through Parliament for the Labour Party as the then Shadow Transport Minister. Since becoming an MP he has taken a particular interest in the bus system and the experience of those that use this form of transport. Last summer, Mr Zeichner recognised that bus users were under represented in the city and it lead him to hold the first Bus Forum in Cambridge. This event paved the way for the Cambridge Area Bus Users group.