GO GEORGE striving to accommodate passengers with special needs

Minibus hoist

One of the accessibility elements of the GO GEORGE bus service is the hydraulic hoist on the minibus that enables access to people in wheelchairs or who experience other mobility challenges.

The month of November is dedicated to creating awareness of disability rights. The GO GEORGE bus service annually joins Government’s national campaign to increase awareness through a special programme of activities in the community and the media.

According to James Robb, GO GEORGE Manager, the bus service’s constant focus on disability and ways to enhance the travel experience of passengers with special needs is in actual fact much more than a month-long campaign once a year.

“Disability awareness and accommodation is something that we keep in the forefront of our minds all day. To think that we get it right every day, every time is wishful thinking though, but we make every effort to consider and accommodate passengers with disabilities and other special needs as far as possible. Of course, there are times when we don’t get this right, and that’s why we value feedback from and engagement with our passengers,” Robb said.

“There were times when our drivers failed to pick up a blind passenger at a bus stop, or when our ramps did not deploy. Out of this, we’ve learned some valuable lessons, things like changing the way our drivers identify passengers they need to pick up at a stop. The standard approach is that the passenger flags down the appropriate bus when they see it approaching – the blind person cannot do that, so we are relooking at our training, customer care, internal operational procedures, signage and policies.

“We want to accommodate all forms of disability and create a user-friendly service. This is our mission, but we cannot accomplish it without the input and support of our passengers with special needs. We need feedback about their journey so that we can improve our service and do things better next time.”

GO GEORGE is in the process of establishing a focus group consisting of passengers with special needs and people working in the disability sector, to advise, consult and give continuous feedback on matters pertaining to the user-friendliness and universal accessibility of the bus service.

Robb is inviting passengers with disabilities to let them know how they go about town, to share personal experiences of using the bus, or to make suggestions to improve the service. Send an email to info@gogeorge.org.za or leave a message at the GO GEORGE Call Centre by phoning 0800 044 044, to have your call returned.

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