CPT: Keep on campaigning – the industry needs help now

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Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) President Steve Whiteway addresses the industry eight weeks since the start of CPT’s Back Britain’s Coaches campaign – and says the calls for support must not cease.

It is coming up to eight weeks since the Confederation of Passenger Transport’s (CPT’s) Back Britain’s Coaches campaign got started in earnest.

Time is moving so fast, and it isn’t just my age. The lockdown period is flying by. While I can see there is relaxation in the streets, and the roads are much busier as (despite modern communication and entertainment) people seek to interact directly with one another, the restrictions for the coach and bus sector continue to limit its ability to perform its full role in the economic recovery of the country.

With non-essential shops allowed to open from 15 June, I see that shopping will be different, with more space to circulate, one-way systems and queuing to get inside stores – all of which I am sure will be tolerated and accepted by customers. At least those outlets have a choice.

Despite being non-essential, the government is actively encouraging us all to get out and spend our money to get the country back on its feet.

Contrast this scene with the bus industry. The government says ‘get services back to 100%’ but ‘avoid public transport’. It is the same with trains, but planes, like coaches, cannot make it work unless they can fill their seats. Unlike coaches and planes, buses and trains are funded by the government to help them increase services. Hence, the coach and airline industry have much in common.

Like many shops, are coaches also to be regarded as ‘non-essential’? Are all 35,000 coaches in the UK parc just there for pleasure, or will they make a real contribution to getting the UK economy moving again? Of course they will, with the emphasis on ‘moving again’. That is what coaches do, connect the businesses of Britain, whether they be shops, tourist attractions, schools, towns or cities. Over 2.5m staff in the leisure and hospitality sector rely on coaches in one form or another to keep them in work.

Britain is a predominantly service led country. Most of its earnings come from services. Without coaches, much of that service is not deliverable and it will be too late when coaches are no longer there to help rebuild Britain’s shattered economy.

Keep campaigning, and let the government know they will miss us when we are gone. We do not normally expect or receive public money – but we need help now to ensure we will be there to connect Britain together in the future.

Ministers, do not wait – we need help now.