CPT CEO: ‘The country needs a National Coach Strategy’

CPT CEO Coach strategy

CPT has published its coach strategy for Britain, which sets out the road to recovery for the coach industry following the impact of COVID-19

Last month the government launched the National Bus Strategy.

At the Confederation of Passenger Transport we believe the country needs a National Coach Strategy too, and I am delighted that we have published Backing Britain’s Coaches: A coach strategy for Britain.

The strategy sets out the road to recovery for the coach industry following the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how coach can be part of the solution to long-term challenges facing the nation.

In 2019, 500 million coach journeys were made by British people. Coaches transport 600,000 pupils to school each day, and many of us will have fond memories of travelling by coach on school trips and days out. Coaches provide an accessible, affordable and environmentally sustainable travel option, and help those who might otherwise struggle to travel.

Coaches are a central part of the UK tourism sector, yet despite contributing £14bn to the UK tourism economy each year, coach has inexplicably been treated differently to other areas of the sector.

Operators have had difficulty accessing grants, and in some cases the industry has been excluded from even applying. The strategy speaks to this urgent priority and the industry’s need for support and is an issue I highlighted during the recent Transport Select Committee evidence session on coach.

Looking to the future, the road to decarbonisation is top of the government’s agenda. Legally binding commitments to reach net zero emissions by 2050 mean the pressure is on to reduce carbon emissions from transport, which remains the UK’s largest source of emissions. One solution lies ready and waiting in the form of the coach; we estimate that just a 15% increase in coach passenger journeys by British people each year would save over a quarter of a million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Further, our ambition is to have an ultra-low emission or zero emission coach fleet across Britain by 2040.

To encourage modal shift to more sustainable travel options, we are also urging government to ensure that Clean Air Zones charge or ban cars without also targeting coaches. With COP26 being hosted in Glasgow this year, all eyes are on the UK to lead the way on setting an example.

Perhaps, above all, the strategy speaks to the breadth and depth of this fantastic industry and seeks to ensure the industry will never again be invisible to policy makers.

Please do take the time to head over to our website and read the strategy. I encourage CPT members to also sign up for the event on 20 April, for a discussion with Under-Secretary of State for Transport Baroness Vere and Under-Secretary of State for Sport, Heritage and Tourism Nigel Huddleston on the future of the industry.