Commitment to support disabled bus users
A film to help raise awareness of the difficulties faced by people with additional needs and disabilities when using buses in the county has launched today.
Gloucestershire County Council, Inclusion Gloucestershire and Stagecoach have worked together to make the film, called ‘Breaking down barriers to mobility on the buses’, to highlight these issues and is affirming a commitment to make changes.
The film features three disabled people from Gloucester and Cheltenham who speak about the experiences they have had using buses. One is a wheelchair user who has recently given up driving, another is hearing impaired and uses sign language and the other featured is visually impaired and travels with an assistance dog.
Some of the areas highlighted include the opportunity for further disability training for drivers, spaces for more than one wheelchair and access to information about buses. Collectively all parties have committed to review the areas raised and feed them into potential service improvements.
Under the Equalities Act 2010, all public buses are required to be fully compliant in accessibility terms and this is the case in Gloucestershire. There is also ongoing joint investment by all parties to fund fleet improvements and the provision of accessible bus stops via higher kerbs to meet with the bus entrance, however there is room for further development and investment to further expand and enhance accessibility in the county and work will start following the consultation on the Bus Service Improvement Plan.
A survey inviting people to give their views on the future of bus services in the county closes on 30 January 2022 and is available here: https://haveyoursaygloucestershire.uk.engagementhq.com/bus-service-improvement-plan-survey
Vicci Livingstone-Thompson, CEO of Inclusion Gloucestershire, said: “We know that disabled people face additional and unnecessary barriers when accessing public transport, and that this can have a huge impact on their ability to access the community, work, attend appointments or have a decent quality of life. However, as a disabled people’s organisation we are pleased to have started work in partnership with others, including Gloucestershire County Council, to identify areas for change in the county and hope to continue to drive forward the recommendations identified.”
Cllr Philip Robinson, Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member with responsibility for public transport, said: “I am grateful to the three people who shared their experiences in this video to highlight what work still needs to be done to make our public transport accessible and easy for everyone to use. I’m pleased that this work is already underway with our Bus Service Improvement Plan. I encourage everyone to respond to the survey to help us ensure that we are delivering bus services that are suitable for all people across Gloucestershire.”
Rachel Geliamassi, Managing Director at Stagecoach West, said: “We are passionate about serving our community and believe that public transport should be accessible to all. We hope that by unlocking funding through the National Bus Strategy and working closely with Gloucestershire County Council, improvements can be made so that everyone in the county can use buses with confidence.”
You can view the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc9Vo6YcN88
The project is seeking further funding to carry out a similar review around train travel in Gloucestershire and is working with district councils to raise awareness of issues with accessible taxi provision.