A new multi operator scheme to help customers is being administered by Brighton & Hove Buses and Metrobus and supported by other operators including Big Lemon, Compass Travel, Stagecoach and thesussexbus.com. Labelled Helping Hand, this has been designed to help bus drivers help customers. The card will display a basic instruction to the driver such as “Please lower the ramp” for passengers that may be unsteady on their feet.
This card has been introduced following feedback from passengers and after learning from best practice in similar schemes in other areas across the UK.
The card is free for any passenger that may need extra assistance or require the driver to be made aware of something discreetly without having to verbally communicate it.
The card will not label any passenger’s conditions but only provide the information passenger’s need to convey directly to the driver. However if a passenger does wish to have a bespoke card made for them that does state the holders condition we would of course be happy to oblige but only if this is what the passenger requires.
What will the card offer the holder?
It will allow the passenger to be able to communicate quickly, directly and discreetly with the driver any extra assistance that they may require without having to explain every time they board the bus. We want to help our drivers to help you.
The card is bright yellow in order to be easily seen and therefore can be used as a hailing card to an approaching bus. This can communicate with the driver before the passenger has even boarded that they may require extra assistance or have specialised requirements.
It can also display, if required, an emergency contact telephone number. This may benefit passengers that suffer from a medical condition such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s or dementia.
What kind of things can the card help with and what will the card say?
- The passenger may need time to find a seat in priority seating before the bus pulls away and the card can inform the driver of this by saying- Please wait until I am seated.
- ·For passengers that are blind or are partially sighted the card could inform the driver that they will need to be to·ld when it is their stop by saying- Call out my requested stop. (As they board they will inform the driver of which stop)
- The passenger may require the ramp to be put down to allow easier boarding as well as the step being lowered and their card could say- Lower the ramp and step.
- We also have passengers that have extra special requirements such as a pushchair that has oxygen being carried. The card would say- Pushchair can’t be folded.
- We have a passenger in his early 20’s that suffers from a debilitating condition. His card will advise that he needs a priority seat so that he doesn’t have to explain why it is essential he has one of the seats. His card, as agreed, will say – Requires priority seating.
We will have a list on our website of possible cards however we will be able to discuss with the passenger personally their requirements and therefore to be able to design bespoke cards as required. We would also of course be happy to discuss the message with the passenger’s representative, such as a parent, foster parent, social worker, teacher or carer.
What will the card look like?
The card will be credit card sized, double sided with one side clearly showing the instruction to the driver and the other side has space for an optional name and emergency contact number.
We will provide a free clear double plastic wallet, which can also carry passenger’s concessionary cards if required. For customers who would need to keep their hands free, a card holder on a lanyard will be available.
How to apply for Helping Hand
Helping Hand is administered by Brighton & Hove Buses. Applying is easy by clicking here or by ringing 01273 886200 where one of our customer service operators will happy to help, and by request, post out an application form.
Application forms can also be picked up at:
1 Stop Travel, 26 North Street, Brighton BN1 1EB
Brighton & Hove Buses Head Office, 43 Conway Street, Hove BN3 3LT
Metrobus, Customer Services, Crawley Bus Station, Friary Way, Crawley RH10 1HZ
Metrobus Customer Services, Redhill Travel Shop, Redhill Bus Station, Princess Way, Redhill RH1 1QA
Q. How much will this cost me?
A. The card is free of charge. A valid ticket or concessionary pass is still required for travel.
Q. I am a carer for my child who is disabled. Can I apply for a card on that basis?
A. Yes carers can apply for cards and we will be happy to discuss the appropriate message on the card with you when you contact us.
Q. My card says that I need a priority seat. If someone is sitting in the seat can the driver make the passenger vacate it in order for me to sit down?
A. Unfortunately whilst we can ask we can’t make anyone vacate a seat for another passenger. The card will however inform the driver that you may require priority seating and therefore this will give the driver the knowledge to ask passengers to vacate the area.
Q. I have lost my card. What can I do and will I have to pay for a replacement?
A. We would be happy to replace the card free of charge.
Q. I don’t live in Brighton and Hove how can I get my free card?
A. If you ring 01273 886200 one of our customer service operators will be happy to assist and advise you.
Q. My card asks for the driver to lower the ramp. I also want a card that says to wait until I have sat down before pulling away. Can I have two different cards?
A. We will work with you to agree the wording that assists them the most. If this requires two cards, we will provide them.
Q. The driver read my card and didn’t follow the request. What now?
A. We aim to provide the highest standards of professional service. We will of course investigate any problems that passengers may have so that we can improve on the scheme. Please contact us on 01903 690025 and we will investigate accordingly.