Thistle card aims to help drivers and passengers

A new scheme to improve communication between less able bus passengers and drivers will be launched in Dumfries and Galloway from 19th January.

The Thistle Card will enable card holders to quickly and easily advise bus drivers of any difficulties they may have.

Thistle Card packs include a Thistle Card and a sheet of stickers, which contain a selection of clear symbols and short messages, such as ‘Please wait for me to sit down’.

Symbols include impairments such as sight, mobility, hearing, and speech.

The Thistle Card in Dumfries and Galloway will also include an additional symbol for sufferers of dementia, at the request of Alzheimer Scotland.

The card has been shown to improve communication between bus drivers and passengers, and improve passenger confidence and personal safety where the scheme is currently active in the South East, Tayside and Central areas of Scotland.

Results showed that Dumfries and Galloway had the sixth highest proportion of population with a long-term activity-limiting health problem or disability by Council area in the 2011 Scottish Census.

The scheme, which is implemented by the South West of Scotland Transport Partnership (SWestrans), is designed to reduce some of the distress people with impairments can experience in accessing and travelling by public transport.

Frank Morgan of DGVoice, the representative body for disabled people in Dumfries and Galloway said of the scheme: “The practical benefits of this card will mean that public transport staff will be able to assist people with disability or illness in a manner appropriate to their specific support needs.

“The Thistle Card is a welcome addition for ensuring people with disability are treated with dignity, and supported fully in an equitable and fair way, within our local Transport services.”

Thistle Card packs with card and stickers are available free of charge from all libraries and customer service centres throughout the region.