Is political view of the industry starting to change?

Coach and bus industry political view changing

Upheaval in government following Liz Truss’s ascent to the post of Prime Minister has been overshadowed by the sad passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. That gives time to reflect on her lifetime of service and the prospect of change to something that for many has always been constant.

Signs that norms in the coach and bus industry are also evolving came in August. In England, the sometimes-combative tone of Under-Secretary of State for Transport Baroness Vere changed in her confirmation of the extension of Bus Recovery Grant (BRG) into 2023.

More BRG money ultimately is no huge surprise. But Lady Vere’s between-the-lines reference to potential subsequent support is. While it is wishful to think that buses in England will adopt the long-term funding approach seen in some other transport areas, Lady Vere’s words may be a sign that the penny has finally dropped.

In Scotland, the coach industry saw a landmark when it was included in indicative eligibility for the second round of the Scottish Zero Emission Bus fund. For the first time in the UK, it opens to grant support the purchase of zero-emission coaches for all types of work, including private hire.

That product landscape is still at an early phase, but such an approach stands to speed its development. Less positively, Holyrood had indicated at the time of writing that Network Support Grant Plus for buses will be allowed to lapse in October. In view of Scotland’s otherwise largely pro-public transport approach, that is inexplicable. It must change if other work is not to be undone.