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Visually impaired bus user criticises Bridgwater buses
A VISUALLY impaired bus user has hit out at buses in Bridgwater for driving past him at several pick-up points.
Peter Jeffree was shocked when three buses passed him as he waited at bus stops in the town on the same day last week.
He said: “I was waiting at St John's Street, opposite the Bicycle Chain on Tuesday (August 20), when the D service passed right by me.
“I was shocked because it's a designated stop and I was holding my white cane, so it was obvious I was trying to catch the bus and that I have sight problems.
“Many buses have engines in the back, so I can hear them passing me, but find it hard to hear them approach over the other traffic noise. While I have some sight, I can only see blurry objects when they are really close.”
Tim Gardner, managing director of WebberBus, which ran the service, said the stop is a ‘request bus stop’. He told the Mercury: “You have to make your presence known to a driver when waiting at that type of stop.
“I understand this can be hard for visually impaired people and I would advise them to use an upgraded stop with a bus shelter building. These are Disability Discrimination Act compliant and are designed with disabled people in mind.
“Alternatively, Mr Jeffree can contact Bridgwater Town Council and ask them to upgrade the ‘request bus stop’ to a DDA compliant stop.
“In the meantime, we will notify all of our drivers to look out for visually impaired people who may be waiting for a bus at the stop Mr Jeffree has mentioned.”
But Mr Jeffree's problems continued when he was waiting at the bus shelter outside the old court buildings at Northgate.
He said: “At that stop I was sure to have my bus pass displayed, holding it on top of my white cane. Two First Bus services drove past me without a second glance. That made three buses in one afternoon.
“I have a friend who also catches the bus and uses a white stick. He has had similar experiences in Bridgwater and Taunton.
“We have the right to travel independently, just like anyone else.”
A spokesman for First Group said its drivers are given training in disability awareness.
He added: “We are really sorry to hear Mr Jeffree has had a problem using our buses.
“We ask our drivers to be aware of the needs of blind and partially sighted people, and to always stop if they see them waiting at a bus stop, regardless of whether they hail the bus or not.
“We would note Mr Jeffree has not formally logged a complaint with us about this latest incident. We would encourage him to do so, so the matter can be investigated fully.”
The company added it uses 'My Guide' training for staff and is running a series of events for its drivers with the Royal National Institute for the Blind.
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