An example of the disjointed approach to the coach and bus industry from parts of government is the latest exemption to PSVAR.
It is an extension of the bizarre one-month ‘special authorisation’ for rail replacement services. Operators were given two working days to apply for it.
This exemption will do nothing other than kick the PSVAR problem down the road a little further. That DfT thinks it will contribute to a transition to compliance on rail replacement is absurd.
With that in mind, it is imperative that the industry makes its case to government and articulates the issues it faces. There are many of them, and in many cases the powers that be are woefully unaware.
Where engagement has been made, the news is, tentatively, positive. In Bristol, the regional MD of First Bus reports that dialogue with elected officials on congestion was “far more positive” than he could have expected.
Meanwhile, Sadiq Khan is slowly coming around to the coach industry in London. He has made an early offer of £15,000 per vehicle to some operators to promote Euro VI compliance.
It is true that 2020 for the industry has started in a difficult way. One major municipal operator has failed already. Others have either closed or indicated that they will likely do so. That underlines how engagement is key.
Many in the industry will be watching how the Confederation of Passenger Transport shapes up during the year ahead. The arrival of an experienced coaching figure as President this week is a boon for members in that sector.
But on a grass roots level, what can you do to help drive coach and bus industry engagement?