Conflicting and mixed-up policy messages hurt the industry

In comments relating to PSVAR, the UK Coach Operators Association has called on the government to expand any work on a transition towards wholesale compliance in the sector to include a roadmap towards low- and ultimately zero-emission coaches.

That fits well with an aspiration by Zemo Partnership – a renamed LowCVP – for funding to help coaches to begin such a step change. In 2020, LowCVP unveiled work that if adopted would lead to an Ultra-Low Emission Coach definition and an accompanying funding stream.

But there is a disconnect at central government level. Over a year ago it announced billions for zero-emission buses. None of that has yet found its way into a bidding process. Scotland, meanwhile, races ahead with its Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme.

Meanwhile, most Clean Air Zone proposals in England shy away from penalising non-compliant cars. A late-model Euro V coach or bus, potentially with 70 or more passengers, would be liable to a daily charge. Potentially much older and more polluting single-occupant cars would not. Equally, Treasury Minister Jesse Norman is said to have hinted that domestic air passenger duty could be cut – hardly a move that fits with a wider low-carbon agenda.

Many challenges face the coach and bus industry as it recovers from COVID-19. What the sector can do without, both now and in the long-term, is conflicting government messaging and policies that fail to leverage (or even recognise) the contribution it can make to Net Zero aspirations.