Bus passengers using services provided by Stagecoach in Cambridge may have to wait another two and a half years for audio announcements on City buses, according to government proposals.
Common in many cities, including London, disability campaign groups such as Guide Dogs have pressed hard for the systems to be introduced, and the principle was enshrined in the 2017 Bus Services Act. Some operators, such as Whippet, have already made the change. Now the Government has consulted on an implementation timetable, which MP for Cambridge Daniel Zeichner MP has as “stalling on previous promises”.
The consultation document suggests that for standard operators of more than 20 vehicles:
- Vehicles first used after 5th April 2014: Must comply from 6th April 2021.
- Vehicles first used between 6th April 2012 and 5th April 2014: Must comply from 6th April 2023.
- Vehicles first used on or before 5th April 2012: Must comply from 6th April 2025.Small operators (fewer than 21 Vehicles).
- Vehicles first used on or after 6th April 2019: Must comply from 6th April 2021;
- Vehicles first used before 6th April 2019: Must comply from 6th April 2025.Daniel Zeichner, MP for Cambridge and member of the Transport Select Committee, comments “Although I welcome these consultations as a movement towards action, I am concerned that the time frames suggested for larger operators are not sufficiently ambitious. Mandatory audio announcements were specified in the Bus Services Act, which was first discussed in Parliament over two years ago, so large operators will have had a lot of time to prepare for the changes.””Under these proposals, some buses in Cambridge have audio announcements now, some will have them from 2021, but some won’t need them until 2025, which means that services will remain unpredictable for those who require audio announcements.”
“While I appreciate the commercial changes that the introduction of audio announcements will cause, it is of no use to someone partially sighted or blind if a bus comes along which they are unsure if they can use due to the staggered rollout and different ages of bus on the same routes. Uncertainty stops this being a transport solution until 2025, which is very unfair for those who cannot use the services without audio announcements. The government should show leadership on this, and get a move on with supporting operators to upgrade quickly.”