New scheme to help blind residents at bus station

A CAMPAIGNER has brought about a new system to help blind people at a bus station.

Durham County Council has funded and installed a new Help Point to offer passengers on-the-spot access to a bus station attendant who will then be able to assist with information on any changes to buses or platforms.

The scheme is being introduced in Durham City after concerns from east Durham resident Ron Cordner, who is blind.

The regular bus passenger, from Blackhall, asked if it was possible for a system to be introduced to enable particularly blind and partially-sighted people to get accurate, up-to-date information on changes to their bus services.

Mr Cordner said: "I use the buses all the time and I have trained my guide dog to take me to a specific bus bay.

"When things change at short notice I can find it difficult to get to the right place in time. This Help Point will be a real benefit to me and many others. It's great to see it up and running."

The council's passenger transport business manager, Richard Startup, said: "The North Road bus station is extremely busy at times and to ensure punctuality for services sometimes buses have to pull in to a bay which is not the advertised one.

"This can mean that more vulnerable passengers in particular are not aware of the last minute changes, so we have been seeking the best solution to the problem.

"The Help Point offers customers a big button, with instructions in large print and Braille, linked directly to a pager, which will, in turn, alert an attendant. The attendant will then be able to give people the help and support they need to be in the right place at the right time as quickly as possible."

The council has worked with a range of partners, including the County Durham Society for the Blind and Partially Sighted and Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), to develop the system, which has been trialled since the second week of December.

The cabinet member for regeneration and economic development,

Councillor Neil Foster, said: "As soon as Mr Cordner raised concerns we began looking at the best way to solve this problem.

"I am really pleased that we can now offer this help which I believe will make using public transport in Durham easier for many passengers, both residents and visitors."