The UK bus and coach industry showed itself to be in both good shape and heart last week, with multi-million pound orders and visits from no less than three Government Ministers just a few of the highlights of a very busy three days at Euro Bus Expo 2014.
Nearly 300 exhibitors took part in the biennial showcase event at the NEC Birmingham, with more than 100 of the very latest vehicles on display â€“ between them worth over 20m â€“ alongside a raft of innovative technology and cutting edge developments in accessibility and reduced environmental impact which is increasingly shaping the passenger transport sector.
The Secretary of State â€“ the Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP – along with Transport Minister Baroness Kramer toured and made Keynote addresses at Euro Bus Expo on the second and third days of the show respectively, whilst Danny Kennedy MLA, the Transport Minister for Northern Ireland, also added gravitas to the show with his presence.
Nearly 9,500 visitors came to the three day show â€“ 2% up on the audience at Euro Bus Expo 2012. With senior executives from all the major bus groups in attendance, together with coach operators representing businesses small and large alike, not to mention a number of international transport groups, there were plenty of orders announced at EBE14 reflecting the general level of confidence within the industry. ADL, Irizar, Traffilog, Volvo Bus and Wrightbus were just some of the many exhibitors announcing orders at the show, which collectively totalled many millions of pounds.
Whilst at the show, both the Secretary of State and the Minister for Transport paid tribute to the bus and coach industry and its contribution to the wider economy, as well as its continued progress in the key areas of mobility, accessibility and reducing its environmental impact.
The Secretary of State also described the potential opportunities from wider adoption of smart ticketing arrangements similar to the Oyster card in London as â€œgame changingâ€.
Speaking at the end of the Euro Bus Expo 2014, Show Director Mark Griffin said; â€œWe have had tremendous feedback from visitors and exhibitors alike – the breadth of products and services on display has well and truly put the spotlight on the excellence, energy and innovation that abounds right across the whole industry.
â€œIt was particularly pleasing to see the wider economic and social role of buses and coaches recognised at Government level. The show was a timely opportunity for the wider industry to highlight how it is contributing to economic growth through on-going job creation, reflecting the general optimism that currently permeates through the public transport. Suppliers from every part of the supply chain will have been particularly pleased to hear reassurances from Government Ministers on the long term commitment to key funding programmes too.
â€œOur industry never sleeps and I have no doubt that by the time that Euro Bus Expo 2016 is staged â€“ which will be here again at the NEC Birmingham 1-3 November 2016 â€“ we will see evidence of yet further strides in making travel by bus or coach even more comfortable, safe, accessible, efficient and integrated.â€