The Green Party’s recent success in English local elections may be the work of protest voters, but it could also signpost a growing public environmental conscience making its way onto the mainstream political agenda. And the latter is relevant to coach and bus, because the industry is well equipped to hitch its wagon to the green horse.
The Greens’ performance has garnered mainstream media coverage. Combine that with indications of a modest rise in patronage when a bus route goes zero-emission, and a growing scheduled coach service landscape, and there is rapid capital to be made here by our sector.
At the base of that – fittingly – is political engagement. The absurdity of non-Euro VI coaches and buses being in scope of emission control zones should be one target, as should be the oft-bizarre world of the cost and complications of preparing for zero-emission. One coach operator wants to run more battery-electric vehicles.
The necessary power supply would cost £83,000 and take 12 months to install. RHA’s approach to National Coach Week acts as a how-to of engaging with politicians. The trade body will take on ministers and officials in Westminster. Operators are called upon to strike relationships with elected representatives at a local level. Meanwhile, bus company representatives have already been encouraged by minister Richard Holden to befriend their MPs.
If the industry wants political backing for what lies ahead, it must lay out what it can do in return. Quick and easy wins for coach and bus on the green agenda is one answer. That must now be leveraged at every opportunity.