Peadar O’Dea, 25, who has been visually impaired since birth, has launched an online petition urging First Group in Leeds to make a series of improvements to help those who he says currently find it “extremely difficult to access buses the way they are currently operated”.
In less than a week of the petition launching, he has already collected over 145 signatures but hopes to reach over 1,000.
His list of demands include buses automatically announcing each stop, clear digital texts of each stop for those who are deaf, each bus stop announcing the number of the bus approaching and more foldable seats so wheelchairs have more room.
Peadar said: “I am not asking for preferential treatment for disabled bus passengers, merely that we are enabled to use buses like everyone else. As it stands I, and many other disabled people find it difficult to use buses and either have to rely on the good will of drivers and/or the public or support from friends and family in order to travel.”
He added: “Disabled people should not have to find going on buses difficult or even impossible. Trains already provide pre-booked assistance and announce the names of stations and what platform they will arrive at.”
Paul Matthews, Managing Director at First West Yorkshire said: “We have been working in partnership with local groups that represent the views of disabled and visually-impaired customers for a number of years and we’d be happy to meet with Peadar O’Dea to hear how his views differ from those of these groups in order to continue to invest in improvements that will help customer accessibility and the journey experience.
“One of the points raised in the petition is investment in audio annoucments and I am pleased to confirm that as part of the Leeds Public Transport Investment Programme, we have committed to fitting audio visual next stop announcement systems on all our new buses. Customers can expect to see these starting to appear on our vehicles from the end of this year.”
To view the petition, https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/make-buses-in-leeds-accessible-for-all.