Norfolk passengers take part in RNIB campaign to improve bus driver training

Norwich resident Bernie Reddington, with Guide Dog Ashley, Chloe Smith MP and RNIBregional campaigns

Norwich resident Bernie Reddington, with Guide Dog Ashley, Chloe Smith MP and RNIBregional campaigns officer Emily Papaleo. - Credit: Archant

Calls were made for improvements in bus driver training yesterday after blind and partially sighted people took part in a national campaign.

Six passengers got on the buses in Norfolk yesterday for the Royal National Institute of Blind People's (RNIB) campaign to highlight the challenges they face - and only three made it to Norwich in time.

The blind or partially sighted people were taking part in the charity's Stop for Me, Speak to Me campaign to gather evidence in support for the introduction of mandatory disability awareness driving for bus drivers.

The campaigners reported a mixture of positive and negative experiences using Norfolk's buses. However, they often miss appointments because they get on the wrong bus or dismount at the wrong stop because of a lack of information.

The final journey of the national relay will finish with the handover of the audio document and a report to Norman Baker, parliamentary undersecretary of state for transport, encouraging him to push for mandatory disability awareness training for bus drivers when the Department of Transport reviews the issue next year.

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Siobhan Meade, of Gorleston, who travelled from Wymondham to Norwich yesterday, said her driver had stopped for her and told her what number bus she was on. However, the driver did not tell her whether he would notify her of when her stop was coming up.

However, Bernie Reddington, of Sprowston, travelled from Dereham and back again and got on the wrong bus at Norwich bus station and when she got on the right bus was not told when she had arrived in Dereham. However, her return journey to Norwich was incident free, she added.

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'75pc of blind and partially sighted people do not feel confident about using buses. We need drivers with good communication skills,' she said.

As part of a fortnight of action, Norwich North MP Chloe Smith went on a blindfold bus journey on July 25 from the city centre to Sprowston.

Representatives from First Buses in Norfolk have also agreed to hold a Swap with Me event in Great Yarmouth this summer where bus drivers and blind and partially sighted passengers will have an opportunity to swap places on a stationary bus to better understand one another's experiences.

Emily Papaleo, RNIB regional campaigns officer for the East of England, said: 'Catching a bus should not be a sight test. Local bus travel is a lifeline, providing an important means of transport and we want operators to remember one simple principle: Stop for me, Speak to me.'

For more information, visit or call RNIB's campaigns hotline on 020 7391 2123.

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