"What's the fuss we want the bus!"

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have been involved in an extensive programme of field work which has brought people from Sheffield's learning disability community together with public transport providers.

The "What's the fuss we want the bus!" research project, co-ordinated by the University's Department of Landscape external company, Experiential Landscapes, involved more than 30 people with learning disabilities over giving accounts of their experiences using Sheffield's buses.

Working in partnership with transport providers the researchers at the University of Sheffield carried out an extensive programme of workshops and site visits across the city, empowering the learning disability participants to identify and articulate through paintings, animated film production, interviews, words and drama what they feel about how bus services meet their needs and what can be done to improve things.

The project's findings were discussed at the People's Parliament today (Thursday 16 July 2009), with attendees including the learning disability community, policy makers and managers from the public transport services, officers from Sheffield Council and academic colleagues.

Key findings included the idea that overall bus travel for the groups surveyed was a positive experience, but that there were a few concerns and improvements that could be made do make the experience easier.

Concerns were raised over anti-social behaviour on buses and also the ability to get to bus stops safely due to the absence of suitable crossings and traffic. Issues such as consistent colour coding for routes and bus stops was also mentioned, with the addition of limiting the amount of jargon used in pamphlets or online.

This learning disability project is funded by The Leverhulme Trust, and forms part of a wider two-year experiential research programme in which the experiential aspects of the urban landscape are being investigated.

Dr Alice Mathers said: "The project is a relatively unique example of an open and successful partnership between the learning disability community, the university, the local authority and the transport providers which aims to result in positive changes occurring in the daily lives of local people."

Damian Dutton, at South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) added: "It has been a pleasure to be involved with the researchers and participants as part of the "What's the fuss we want the bus!" project. The approach of recording the actual travel experiences of passengers with learning disabilities will provide meaningful information that can contribute to improving the travel experiences of all."

A spokesperson for the trainees at Work Ltd said: "It has been both important and good fun to do the bus project as a group. We have been listened to and by making a film and going to People's Parliament we are doing something about vandalism, bad behaviour, access and information problems we have on the bus"

As part of an extension to the research, Sheffield City Council Mobility Strategy team, who sponsored the dissemination day, have agreed to incorporate the findings from the present research into their 2009 Mobility Strategy.

Notes for Editors: The People's Parliament Presentation Day took place at Sheffield Town Hall on Thursday 16 July 2009 between 11.30-2.30pm.

The University of Sheffield research team worked with First South Yorkshire, Stagecoach Sheffield, Sheffield Community Transport- and the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive.

The University worked with three different disability support agencies around Sheffield, including; Sheffield Mencap; SUFA and W.O.R.K Ltd.

Further information please contact: Catherine Milburn, Media Relations Officer on 0114 2225339 or email C.L.Milburn@sheffield.ac.uk