Cat Smith, member of parliament for Lancaster and Fleetwood has been asking questions about bus services in the House of Commons. The questions have been addressed to Jesse Norman MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) who has provided written answers.
Ms Smith asked about the provision of audio-visual "next stop" announcements on buses.
Here is her question:
The Bus Services Act 2017 included provision for the government to require all bus operators to equip their vehicles with visual displays and audio announcements to let passengers know the name of the stops along the route, with each stop being announced just before the bus arrives.
Using GPS technology, this system is in use on every bus in London as well as an increasing number of English cities, with Nottingham being a prime example.
|An example from Nottingham, showing the name |
of the approaching stop and the two following. Audio
announcememts are also made.
Locally, it is in use on a small number of buses in the Blackburn and Burnley areas but the nearest we get to it here in Lancaster is on Stagecoach service 555 where an inferior audio-only system makes rather lengthy announcements when approaching some (but not all) of the stops north of Carnforth. Even then, it is often not working, although whether that is due to a faulty system or someone having chosen not to switch it on is unclear.
|A simpler, but perhaps less cluttered example from London.|
When used properly, such systems are invaluable for blind and partially-sighted passengers, whilst the visual displays cater for those who are hard-of-hearing. The
systems also help any passengers who may not have hearing or sight impediments but who may just be travelling a route for the first time or to a destination they have not been to before. The Bus Users' Group was very pleased that this requirement had been built-in to the Bus Services Act and has been waiting for news of when it might be implemented, so we are grateful to Cat Smith for raising the issue in parliament. It does look, however, that the introduction of these systems may still take some time. Here is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary's reply:
"Stakeholders", of course, will include the bus industry itself, which will no doubt find many reasons why the introduction of such systems should be delayed or even abandonned. The industry is notoriously short-termist in its thinking and usually acts as if keeping costs down will prove more beneficial (to it) than improving its offering to the public. We hope the government keeps its nerve on this and works towards early implementation. But here lies another problem. Note the reference above to publishing Regulations "when the Parliamentary timetable permits". Anyone who takes any interest in politics may have noticed that the "parliamentary timetable" is presently somewhat over-subscribed with the a certain issue involving us and our European neighbours. The BUG won't be holding its breath!