Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) member operators are out in force this week, helping to keep people moving during strikes on the London Underground and Southern Rail.
Says CPT CEO Simon Posner: “Once again, bus and coach operators have demonstrated their commitment to delivering passengers to their destinations and helping them return home again. I am very proud to say that CPT members have yet again responded positively and willingly to requests for help.
“This week we see the industry at its very best, proving beyond any doubt that buses and coaches are absolutely key to keeping the travelling public on the move.”
During three days of drivers strikes on Go-Ahead owned Southern Rail, seven direct coach routes ran, mainly with a half-hourly frequency, using 200 vehicles. They were short distance runs, such as Chichester-Havant, to provide access to South West and Southern services.
Ironically, many ran adjacent to long-closed former railway routes, such as Tunbridge Wells-Uckfield, East Grinstead-Gatwick and Oxted-Sevenoaks.
Rail replacement buses ran on the Lewes-Seaford and Ashford-Hastings routes. All rail replacement services were co-ordinated by Go-Ahead’s rail replacement team.
Before Christmas Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the Commons that up to 4,000 army personnel held PCV licences and could be called on. This has not so far happened.
In addition, National Express ran two daily non-stop Brighton Victoria Coach Station services aimed at commuters, alongside its scheduled service on the route of 15 coaches each day, each way. The operator says it expects up to 6,000 extra passengers this week.
Says Chris Hardy, MD National Express Coach: "We're here to show people – particularly those who may not have not have been on a coach in a while – that there are reliable alternative means to get you where you need to go.
“We offer a round-the-clock service between Brighton and London, with multiple pick up and drop off points, including Gatwick and Heathrow Airports, and we've supplemented this regular network with thousands of additional seats, as well as launching special 'strike' services aimed at getting commuters in and out of the capital fast.
“Travel habits can be entrenched but where the alternative offer not only makes sense but even surpasses expectations they can be changed, and we're already seeing people who are switching to coach travel in direct result of the ongoing rail disruption.”