Cardiff council’s public transport arrangements for the three years while the city’s bus station is redeveloped have come under fire from two sight loss charities.
The RNIB, Guide Dogs Cymru and Cardiff Institute for the Blind have warned the authority’s decision to create new bus stops scattered around the city centre could have a big impact on many of the estimated 8,700 Cardiff residents with sight problems.
Some say they are worried about having to navigate their way around busy city centre streets because buses are now starting and terminating their routes all over central Cardiff.
Westgate Street ‘a particular problem’
It was much more straightforward to change buses when there was one interchange, they say.
Westgate Street has been highlighted as a particular problem because of its lack of accessibility.
The claims have been refuted by the council, which insists it has worked closely with the organisations in the build-up to the bus station’s closure.
However, RNIB Cymru director Ceri Jackson said accessible communication about the changes had not been considered until the charity raised it with the council.
Disorientated by changes
She said: “In order to use buses independently, blind and partially sighted people will often learn a route – for example, by memorising the number of stops, key landmarks or features of the journey.
“Many people will be disorientated by changes to a familiar route, or be confused by having to disembark in an unfamiliar location.
“The interim arrangements will have a serious impact on people with sight loss.
“Some people will not feel safe or confident enough to travel, and decide not to make the journey – as we know happened during the NATO Summit, when there were significant alterations to bus services.
“Westgate Street is a key location for bus stops, however this street needs significant work to bring it up to accessibility standards.
“The new development is a great opportunity for us to work in partnership and ensure accessibility for all – but the issue is what happens right now.”
Andrea Gordon, engagement manager at Guide Dogs Cymru, said she was also worried there were “very real risks for people with sight loss”.
‘I don’t see how they can rectify it’
Des Radcliffe, who lives near Caerphilly and who travels on the bus to Cardiff about four times a week, is registered blind.
He said: “We now have to walk around the streets and cross roads. It is not easy.
“It is a problem, although I don’t see how they can rectify it.”
Rosemarie Connick, who has sight problems and who lives in Culverhouse Cross, said she was concerned about the changes.
She explained: “I think it should be made easier for people with sight difficulties, and others who might have limb problems, who will be wondering where to go for their bus.”
Improved tactile and crossing facilities
A Cardiff council spokesperson said the authority had been working alongside RNIB, Guide Dogs Cymru and CIB on the issues since early July.
The spokesperson added: “We are implementing a number of physical improvements to Westgate Street, including improved tactile and crossing facilities and we are looking at a number of measures to ensure improved communication and wayfinding for a number of communities.
“These include the creation of tactile maps and audio descriptions, produced in partnership with the RNIB, and the creation of landmark based pictorial maps in partnership with Cardiff People First.
“We hope to get the majority of these in place as soon as we can.”
Fonte: Wales Online