- New technology – which uses real-time information - introduced on X19 services to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital
- RNIB Scotland representatives trial new audio system and take part in swap with me event
- Humza Yousaf Minister for Transport and The Islands welcomes the introduction of the new technology
Bus operator Stagecoach and transport body Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) are delivering improved information for passengers with sight difficulties with the launch of an Audio Visual Announcement System recently installed on vehicles operating Stagecoach West Scotland’s X19 services which run from Easterhouse to Glasgow city centre and Queen Elizabeth University Hospital providing a vital link for staff, patients and visitors attending the hospital.
The Audio Visual Announcement System was provided by SPT as part of their continued partnership with Stagecoach on the X19 service which uses the Fastlink Busway. The £40,000 investment aims to improve the lives of blind or partially sighted passengers by using real-time information to provide next stop announcements giving confidence to blind or partially sighted passengers that they know where they are on their journey and when their stop is coming up. The system will also provide benefits to visitors to Glasgow as well as current users of the X19 services.
Representatives from RNIB Scotland attended the launch to trial the new audio equipment in action and take part in a “Swap With Me event” with RNIB Scotland and Stagecoach staff to allow staff further appreciation of the challenges faced by visually impaired passengers when accessing bus services.
Stagecoach has invested significantly in Automatic Vehicle Location technology which allows real-time next-stop information to be delivered to customers in a variety of ways, including through smartphone apps.
This technology is part of Stagecoach’s wide-ranging digital strategy which has included the launch of a new website and Stagecoach Bus app as well as the planned roll-out of mobile ticketing and contactless payments across the UK.
Tom Bridge Managing Director Stagecoach West Scotland said: “We are delighted to launch the new audio announcement system on our X19 services. We are continuing to work in partnership with SPT to improve services for customers across the West of Scotland.
“We want our buses to be accessible to everyone, including people who are blind and partially sighted and the 'Swap with me' event will help our staff to understand the practical issues faced by blind and partially sighted people.”
The provision of the audio Visual Announcement System has been welcomed by Humza Yousaf Minister for Transport and The Islands who said: “Today marks a step forward in terms of the provision of information to visually impaired passengers and this is another great example of the power of partnership working between SPT and Stagecoach. Stagecoach is leading the way, having signed up to the RNIB’s Bus Charter, which is something I want to encourage other bus operators to do.
“We want a Scotland where all disabled people can travel with the same freedom, choice, dignity and opportunity as other citizens. Our recently published Accessible Travel Framework contains a high level action plan to take forward delivery of our ambitions.”
SPT Chief Executive Gordon Maclennan said: “SPT continuously strives to ensure all passengers receive the best service possible when travelling by bus, especially those passengers who may need extra assistance on their journey.
“Public transport is a life line for many passengers with assisted needs, in terms accessing jobs, goods and services and social networks. The audio visual announcement system installed on the X19 service is an example of how we can offer practical help to partially sighted or blind passengers to know where they are on their journey at any time and when the next stop is coming up. This hopefully gives passengers more confidence when travelling independently by bus.”
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Scotland helps blind and partially sighted people of all ages live as fully and independently as possible. It provides advice, support, training, equipment and transcribes books and other materials. It also campaigns to improve sight loss prevention.
James Adams, deputy director of RNIB Scotland, said: "For people with sight loss, their local bus service can be a lifeline for getting to work, to the shops and for staying in touch with family and friends. If you are unable to drive or cycle and can't afford taxis, the bus is the only way of getting around. But knowing when your stop is approaching can be a major problem.
"Stagecoach's new Audio Visual Announcement System should prove a great help in overcoming this, especially on a service that includes a major hospital, where many people with sight loss, particularly more elderly ones, are likely to attend. We hope that this will become a standard feature on buses.
"Our Swap With Me events have been welcomed by bus crews in giving them a better appreciation of some of the problems faced by blind and partially sighted passengers."