A HAMPSHIRE bus company is spending thousands of pounds to give visually impaired passengers a helping hand.

Eastleigh-based Bluestar has introduced automated audio announcements to tell passengers which stop the bus is approaching.

This is designed to help the visually-impaired and passengers new to the area.

The system has been installed on all the single and double decker buses at a cost of £1,000 per bus.

It uses GPS satellite navigation to know where the bus is and the appropriate voice file is activated as the bus approaches the stop.

Bluestar has also introduced helpful features to its Unilink and Bluestar websites.

A new Recite “speak me”

feature allows text to be read out in English or translated into a chosen language.

The new feature can also change the size of the text and the background colours to help those with visual impairments.

Nikki Honer, marketing and communications manager for the Bluestar and Unilink bus networks, said that with the increasing reliance on the web to access details on services, timetables and fares, the company is determined to make it as easy as possible to relay information simply and clearly.