Talking Buses Campaign
Audio visual equipment on buses can support a wide range of disabled passengers to feel sufficiently confident to use buses. It enables them to access education, employment and other services, whether or not they are familiar with the route they are travelling.
I welcome that through the Bus Services Act (2017), accessible information powers will require all bus operators who operate local services across Great Britain to provide audio and visual route and next-stop announcements on board buses. The Government has also committed, through the Inclusive Transport Strategy, to investing £2 million towards ensuring audio visual equipment is installed on buses.
As you are aware, last year the Government launched a consultation on up-to-the minute and accessible bus information. I understand that officials are analysing responses submitted to the consultation, and that the Government will announce its next steps regarding the making of regulations and publication of guidance later this year. It is unfortunate that this cannot be sooner, but I am assured that the Department will respond as soon as they are able.
I understand that access to bus services can be a lifeline for some, particularly those living in rural communities in Scotland. My colleagues in Holyrood believe the Scottish Government should increase support for community schemes by extending the free bus pass scheme to community transport. I believe community and charity-run buses are essential to rural Scotland. It appears the funding currently provided by the Scottish Government for community transport is patchy and inconsistent at best, with a comprehensive national strategy absent. I am keen that this should improve as soon as possible.