Union vs blind passengers

Radio NZ reports:

A union boss has been rebuked for going into a bus depot without permission amid a stoush over on-bus announcements.

On Sunday night, Wellington Tramsway Union secretary Kevin O’Sullivan entered the Kilbirnie bus depot and put almost 2000 leaflets on bus seats.

The leaflets asked passengers to call the Greater Wellington Regional Council if they thought the announcements, which alert travellers to which stops are coming up next, were “excessively loud and distracting”.

He included a phone number belonging to transport chair Thomas Nash, who said he received more than 40 calls and text messages as a result, starting from about 6.30am.

Passenger Tessa Moxey, who found the leaflet on her seat on Monday morning, thought it was in bad taste.

“At first, I was a little bit sympathetic, and then after that I felt a little bit angry because the request sounded a bit ridiculous that we, as the public, needed to call in to get the volume to be lowered even though there was probably quite a good reason that the announcement was on the bus,” she said.

On Tuesday, Nash wrote a letter to the Wellington Tramsway Union, co-signed by Blind Citizens NZ, which strongly backed the announcements.

“It is totally normal and standard practice to have on-board announcements on buses,” he said.

“It is an absolutely essential feature of an accessible public transport network, and I am 100 percent committed, and the council is 100 percent committed to making sure our public transport network – our buses, our trains, our ferries – are accessible for everybody.

Announcements are essential for blind passengers and useful for all passengers who may get distracted. Who would want to stop them?

Thomas Bryan from Blind Citizens NZ said blind people were dependent on the announcements to tell them when to get off the bus.

“When you are on a bus, and it is full of passengers, and people are talking on their phones, or they are having conversations, and all of the drivers have the payment system, the heating system turned up full bore, you need to have a reasonable volume otherwise you can’t hear it. And if you can’t hear it, what is the point of having it?” he said.

Yep buses are loud so announcements need to get over that.

O’Sullivan said he had driven buses for 45 years.

“Blind people have been navigating their way around Wellington quite successfully without all this stuff.

So the union official thinks that blind people don’t need audible announcements because they have managed in the past. Such empathy.

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