Pandemic’s impact on coach further exposed by mileage data

Figures collated by a coach operator comparing the mileage covered by its vehicles in 2020 to like-for-like data for 2019 for its core business have further illustrated the impact of coronavirus COVID-19 on the coach tourism sector.

Peter Godward Coaches of Basildon covered 202,734 miles on core work in the first nine months of 2020. That was 6.5% of the 3,127,117 miles covered in the same period in 2019. The worst month – July 2020 – saw the operator run 0.15% of 2019’s mileage, at 933 miles versus 611,346.

The figures cover all work except home-to-school services. Operations Manager Andrew Church says that Peter Godward Coaches typically generates most of its income from visitors travelling to the UK from outside Europe, and hence it has been hit hard by the pandemic.

“Feedback from those clients is that they do not know when they will be able to start to travel to the UK again,” says Mr Church.

Mileage data for Godward’s UK and European partner coach operators shows that their activity has been similarly decimated. Working on the Essex operator’s behalf in the first nine months of 2020, they covered 8.8% of the mileage run in the same period in 2019. That was helped by a heavy requirement in February 2020. After that, no more partner mileage has been covered.

However, the operator continues to run some home-to-school services. It has also increased the amount of rail replacement work it carries out, both in Essex and elsewhere. Mr Church says that the decision to add more PSVAR compliant coaches to its fleet proved to be shrewd in the latter respect.

Particularly disappointing, he adds, is that 2020 had started very well for the operator. January mileage covered by its own coaches was 9.3% higher than the same month in 2019. While that trend was not continued into February, Mr Church first predicted that 2020 overall would be up by around 18% over 2019.