What support is available for planning my bus journey?

Many people with sight loss use buses to travel to work, to visit friends and family or attend medical appointments. However, this can be a challenge as services can vary dependant on the service operator and where you live.

Contact your local council or local bus service providers and find out as much information as possible about your journey before you travel. You can find the details of your local council on the gov.uk website, your local bus operator can be found on the Traveline website.

Ask them for details such as:

  • Is there a travel centre in my area? Some local bus operators and councils run travel centres where you can drop in and find out about local services.
  • How will I be able to identify local buses and bus stops?
  • How do I pay for my journey? Do I need to pay beforehand or have the exact money? Are there any concessions I’m entitled to?
  • Do you provide journey or travel support cards? These are credit card sized and you can show them to the driver as you board to alert them that you need help
  • What information is available about bus routes, timetables and the location of bus stops? And is any of it available in a format I can read?
  • Are there any services available to me, as someone with sight loss, which will help me use local bus services? This might include travel mentoring schemes where bus operators offer familiarisation sessions for people with disabilities, audio announcements at bus stops or on the buses themselves.

There are also a number of smartphone apps that you can download to help you plan your journey such as:

  • City Mapper (London, Manchester, Birmingham)
  • Travelline GB (UK wide)
  • Translink (Northern Ireland)

Other apps you can use include:

  • UK Bus Checker – is a free smartphone app that reads out when your next bus is due to arrive
  • Arriva UK Bus – is a free smartphone app which shows your nearest bus stop, what buses are at that stop and when they are due to arrive. You can also plan journeys and work out what time you will get to your destination
  • NextBuses – is an online application in which you can search postcode, street & town or a stop name & town to get a live ETA on buses and view bus routes.
  • Moovit - gives you automatic notifications on when to get on and off the bus and gives you live step by step guidance along your route.

There are special cards you can get which are printed with the word bus or the bus number, which you can hold up so the driver knows to stop for you. If you live in Wales or Devon you can also apply for an Orange wallet, see What are the Travel Wallets available when travelling in Wales and Devon (Exeter)?

Booking assistance

If you want to be escorted from a pre-arranged meeting point to the bus and be met at your destination to continue your journey, you can book this free assistance through your transport operator. There are sometimes designated meeting areas at bus stations so make sure that you ask if there is such a place when you make your booking and find out how to get there. If there isn’t a meeting point, then confirm with the operator where you will be met by a member of staff.

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