BUS drivers swapped places with a group of blind and partially-sighted people to show the barriers they face when using public transport.

The drivers, from Arriva’s bus depot in Darlington, wore special glasses to simulate different eye conditions before attempting to use the bus.

They tried different aspects of using public transport, from trying to board a bus to paying for a ticket.

The blind and partially-sighted people were also given the chance to sit in a bus driver’s seat to understand what the driver can hear about the general chatter of a bus full of people.

The event was organised by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Arriva, from its Darlington bus depot. It aims to build awareness and understanding between drivers and bus users and explore ways of making bus transport more accessible.

RNIB regional campaigns officer for the North-East, Lewis Winton, said: “Blind and partially-sighted people rely on public transport to get to work, visit friends and family, and be part of the community.

“Buses in particular are a vital lifeline that brings independence to many people with sight loss.

“This event was a fantastic opportunity for bus drivers and Arriva staff to gain insight into what travel with a vision impairment might be like, while also helping blind and partially-sighted people understand what challenges bus drivers face.

“We hope that this will help make services even more inclusive and accessible for all.”

Nick Knox, area managing director of Arriva North East, said: “I’d like to thank the RNIB and everyone involved for taking the time to share their experiences with Arriva North East and our drivers.

“We are committed to providing accessible transport for all and this recent training has been a positive step forward in increasing our understanding of our blind and partially sighted customers’ needs.”

Arriva is one of the largest bus operators in the UK which has signed up to the RNIB’s Bus Charter, which commits it to further improving services for blind and partially sighted people and ensuring that services are as accessible as possible. The RNIB Bus Charter comprises of 13 pledges, including ensuring that drivers assist blind and partially sighted customers by stopping for them, and explaining what service they are, and what the destination is. It also makes sure that bus information is accessible for people.