NORTH Durham Labour MP Kevan Jones is backing a campaign to make bus travel easier for people with sight loss.

He attended a reception at the Houses of Parliament for the charity Guide Dogs’ campaign for all new buses to have audio visual (AV) next stop announcements, which are vital for blind and partially-sighted bus travellers.

The reception, which was addressed by Bus Minister Baroness Kramer, highlighted how announcements enable blind and partially sighted people to find out where they are and to help them avoid missing their stop.

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AV systems are only fitted to about one fifth of the bus fleet, with the vast majority of these operating in London.

Guide Dogs is calling for the Government to require all new buses be fitted with AV, as currently bus operators are under no obligation to include this technology when upgrading their fleets.

Mr Jones said: “I was very pleased to attend this Talking Buses event highlighting this very important issue. I will also be raising this issue with the local bus companies to ensure that bus travel in my constituency is as safe and easy as possible for blind and partially sighted people.”

James White, Guide Dogs' campaigns manager, said: “Buses are a lifeline for people who are blind or partially sighted, and we welcome the support of Kevan Jones MP for people with sight loss to be able to travel safely and independently.

“Without AV, bus travel for people with sight loss can be especially difficult, stressful, and dangerous when stops are missed and they end up in an unfamiliar area.

“Safe and accessible bus services give people with sight loss much greater freedom to work, socialise and participate in the community.”