Drivers with local bus operator First Scotland East are to be specially trained to help people who are blind or partially-sighted use the bus.
Around 800 First drivers will receive the training which is being designed in c0-operation with the charity Guide Dogs, who provide the ‘My Guide’ sighted guiding scheme.
The drivers will be encouraged to either verbally guide or physically assist passengers, who may have problems with their sight, to their seats and to alert them as they approach their stop.
During their training, the employees will be blindfolded to help them understand the needs and concerns of these customers.
Leading the project at First Scotland East, which has its headquarters in Larbert, is training manager Mike Wilson.
He said: “ We are setting new standards of customer service across our operations in the UK and I’m proud that First Scotland East is at the forefront of this.”
Mike is a guide dog walker in his spare time and will be helped by six-month-old Labrador Paris as he trains the drivers.
He said: “Paris is at the early part of her training to becoming a fully-trained guide dog. She will spend roughly a year with me learning some of the basics before starting her official training in May 2014. She enjoys travelling by bus and will help me put the drivers through their paces.
Guide Dogs ambassador Parm Stringer said: “ Freedom and independence are a crucial part of life regardless of how much you can or cannot see. Guide Dogs is delighted to be working with First on this project”
Staff at Larbert raised £2500 for Guide Dogs thanks to a competition to name a puppy that will become a fully-trained guide dog.
‘Seymour’ is due to be born around Christmas.