Jane Cole opens her column as CPT President and looks towards positive engagement in 2021 

Welcome to my first article as President of the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT). 

The most consistent remark I have had so far is ‘you are the first female CPT President’. Women in Transport has been around since 1915 when the first Bakerloo line extension opened at Maida Vale station, the first tube station to be staffed entirely by women. That same year the first female bus conductor started work in London with the Thomas Tilling Company on route 37. 

CPT has been around in various guises since 1974 and I joined British Rail in 1979. I want to ensure that one of the legacies of my presidency is to ensure that CPT does not leave it as long next time to appoint a female President. 

The last few weeks have been extremely busy as I have been getting to grips with the role of the President of CPT together with meeting the team and more members. 

Everyone has been very supportive and made sure that I was ready to hit the ground running after Steve Whiteway handed over the reins at the Council meeting at the end of January. 

As I have met members it has been interesting to hear that quite a few operators are finding social media a positive engagement tool during the pandemic and that they are using it more frequently. I am an avid LinkedIn user and that is one place where I keep up to date with what coach and bus operators are doing on a daily basis. Maynes of Buckie uses this platform a lot and is brilliant at showcasing its fleet, trips and people in an exceptional way. 

CPT Coach Commission Chair Duncan Aspinall has been very kind enough to explain some of the big-ticket issues that have affected the coach industry during the pandemic. I really am taken aback by the lack of understanding and support that the government has shown. The problems created through vehicle finance and values together with PSVAR are very concerning, but CPT is committed to ensuring it supports and represents members through its lobbying of government. 

I am working with CPT Regional Manager Andrew McGuiness and Blackpool Borough Council at the moment to find a solution for secure coach parking in Blackpool. The town relies heavily on the coach sector to boost the economy all year round and I want to ensure that coaches feel welcome and looked after when they come here. 

It’s been a busy start, with all of the above alongside chairing the CPT Operations and Policy Update on 18 February, the Quality Bus Conference on 19 February and the CPT Bus Recovery Workshop on 26 February. But I’m looking forward to meeting more CPT members in the coming weeks and hopefully in person in the not too distant future.