CPT CEO: Looking ahead to secure the future of our industry

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Keeping one eye on the future is vital to ensure the industry’s inclusivity and environmental goals are delivered

Since March, CPT has been working hard to try and ensure that you have what you need to run your business during these unprecedented times.

This has often meant interventions focused on the urgent, such as: Clarifying what the latest lockdown rules mean for coach operators running tours, securing the next round of the CBSSG funding or highlighting inconsistencies in government messaging around public transport.

However, CPT is also looking further ahead and the forthcoming Spending Review, expected by the end of this year, is a chance to do just that. This year’s Review is expected to see Rishi Sunak set spending for each government department for the next three years, although it may turn out to cover a shorter period. So, what should Mr Sunak be including this time round?

Retrofit funding key

Although the coach and bus sectors are different, many issues overlap. One is the central role they play in cleaning our air and in the battle against the climate emergency.

Therefore, alongside more immediate financial support for the coach sector, the introduction of central grants to help operators retrofit their fleets to Euro VI standard – bringing an end to the postcode lottery of funding – is vital.

The people’s choice

For bus, we need to see government investment that reflects the realities of the pandemic to deliver its ambition of 4,000 green buses.

We also need to ensure that travelling by bus is the first choice for people, which means quicker and more reliable journeys.

This means we need to put bus at the heart of our transport networks and invest significantly in bus priority measures in towns and cities across the country. If everyone took one more bus journey a month, we would reduce the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions by two million tonnes a year.

Cost of accessibility

Finally, we know that coaches provide a safe and convenient form of transport for people who might otherwise be reluctant to travel.

The Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations form an important part of the government’s inclusivity agenda, but the pandemic has made the transition to a more accessible fleet even more challenging as operators have been left with little or no capital or credit for adaptations or replacements. Therefore, the industry needs grants to help cover these costs.

Although much of CPT’s focus is on the here and now, it’s important we keep at least one eye on the future to ensure that we have the policies in place to help deliver the reliable, inclusive and low carbon transport network we will need for a green, passenger-led recovery.