The coronavirus has hit the coach and bus industry hard – CPT is asking the government for support
With the unprecedented turmoil caused by coronavirus COVID-19, my Presidential term to date has mainly been one of support to CPT members, whose whole business model has very suddenly come under threat.
This by virtue that our industry is in the people business and regardless of the government’s official advice, people are deciding not to travel, at least on “public” transport, or having that decision taken from them, as numerous sporting and other events are cancelled.
School closures pose a threat to our industry, not just for coach–operated home–to–school contracts, but in the level of patronage of bus services across the UK.
The decline in bookings for coaches has been immediate and it doesn’t look promising for the peak season ahead, especially if major events such as Glastonbury, Wimbledon, Ascot, the Derby and such are cancelled.
Tourism is inevitably going to suffer, even if the coronavirus COVID-19 lasts just a few months or weeks. Those visiting our shores will want to be sure and they will likely postpone until next year, assuming there is no recurrence of the virus.
In my experience, there could well be a tourism boom in 2021, but I realise that is of little consolation now.
CPT’s bus operator members are also telling me of declining numbers, often up to 50% down and following the all clear, passenger numbers will likely ramp up again fairly quickly, a pattern that just isn’t going to be possible for the coach sector.
In over 40 years in this industry, I have never seen such a major and sudden downturn. The first Gulf War was bad enough, then the 11 September 2001 terror attacks and the 2008 crash but never anything that approaches the effects of coronavirus COVID-19.
CPT is taking rapid action to protect the interests of its members and by association, all of the coach and bus industry, including our valued suppliers, also suffering, and from whom CPT is asking for tolerance and support for the operating community.
Action includes setting up a working group of bus operators, to develop a risk register covering the areas where the bus sector is most exposed and CPT has already appealed to government for support, in mitigating the effects of reduced passenger numbers.
Coaches are also very much the focus of attention, with a similar working group, ascertaining the effect on each region of the UK and passing that to the government with whom CPT is in close contact.
At times like this, CPT comes into its own, offering advice, lobbying government for active support and doing its very best to help its members.
In the testing times ahead, I offer my full support and best wishes in anticipation of better times to come.