£1bn among coronavirus support package calls

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has called for a £1bn government support package to help the coach and bus industry to secure jobs and services over the next three months during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

It is part of various support measures that CPT is asking for. Others are:

  • Allowing the temporary removal, reduction or alteration of services with immediate effect to avoid running ‘ghost buses’
  • That if schools are closed, the government will ensure that local authorities continue to pay operators as if they were operating business as usual.

CPT estimates that measures taken to tackle coronavirus COVID-19 will lead to a weekly revenue cut of at least £50m as passenger numbers on both bus and scheduled coach services drop by 75%. It says that concessionary pass use is likely to reduce to near zero.

CPT adds that the coach sector faces a double whammy as disruption to sports programmes and the key peak season will also hit revenue. Widespread postponement of football fixtures will cost coach operators £500,000 per weekend, cancellation rates for tourism trips are running at 70% and future bookings are down by half.

The Confederation says that if government support for the industry is not provided rapidly, there is a risk that the industry may not be able to return to a normal level of operation when required.

Chief Executive Graham Vidler (pictured) describes the COVID-19 outbreak as “an existential crisis.” He adds that the industry is ready to discuss with the government how vehicles could be put to alternative uses over coming weeks.

That may include them providing services to community hubs or making deliveries to those in need. “We would be happy to work with the government to discuss whether this is feasible and how we could make it happen,” he says.