In March 2023, the Department for Transport announced rules that will require almost every local bus or coach service to provide audible announcements and visual displays identifying the route and direction, each upcoming stop, and the beginning of any diversions.
At present, there is limited provision across the country, with only 30% of buses in England outside London providing this information, which can be a major barrier for disabled people wanting to travel by bus or coach.
Clear audible and visible information will also benefit non-disabled people, helping those who are travelling on an unfamiliar bus route, and giving passengers confidence that they will not be left stranded at the wrong stop late at night.
To ensure the information provides real-life benefits, the Department for Transport has worked closely with disabled passengers, user groups and the bus and coach sector, whilst giving operators the flexibility to choose solutions suitable for their services.
The requirement is being phased in based on the age of the vehicle over the next two years, with all new vehicles introduced after October 2024 required to also include visible information which can be seen by a wheelchair user when travelling in a rearward facing wheelchair space.
Grant Opportunity for Small Operators
The government has allocated £4.65m to support smaller operators to comply with the Regulations, RTIG have been asked to manage the grant on behalf of the Department for Transport.
In the coming weeks RTIG will be launching a grant scheme to support the cost of fitting vehicles with audio visual equipment. This will be targeted at the smallest operators.
Summary of Accessible Information Regulations
A summary of the requirements in the regulations is available on https://www.rtig.org.uk/AIR_Summary