Is it time to encourage passengers back on board?

Coaches doing Honk for Hope demonstration on A40 road, London 20 July 2020

Graham Vidler: ‘Now is the time to embed coaches as a crucial part of the UK’s economic, social and environmental agendas 

With the (for now) everincreasing good news about the COVID-19 vaccine roll out across the UK, we can at least begin to imagine a time where we may be able to go about our lives and run businesses in something akin to normal.  

For coach operators this means being able to encourage people back on board as restrictions are eased, hopefully in time for the peak summer season.  

Over the last few weeks, we have been working with our regional committees and Coach Commission to agree our policy priorities for the year ahead. We also undertook a similar exercise with the Confederation of Passenger Transport’s (CPT’s) Bus Commission and thank you to all members to have inputted into this process.  

The message that came through loud and clear from coach members was that, alongside continuing to provide high levels of operational support and access to a wide range of events with expert speakers, we needed to work together to deliver policies that help get passengers back on board and embed coaches as a crucial part of the UK’s economic, social and environmental agendas.  

The industry has done a lot of work over the last year to build up its reputation in the media and with decision makers and we should be looking to take advantage of this newfound recognition.  

This will start with the publication of CPT’s Coach Strategy that was delayed as a result of the pandemic. It will set out how strong a contribution the sector makes to so many different aspects of life in the UK and a roadmap for how the industry can recover. This will include support to make trips and tours viable in a socially distanced world and having a wide range of places and attractions to visit. We will also be continuing our work to secure bespoke support for the sector and I was delighted that CPT was able to participate in the virtual lobby organised by Emma Hardy MP on this issue earlier this week.  

We also need to make sure that decision makers are aware of the important role coach can play in reducing carbon emissions and improving our air. An important part of this will be ensuring that policies around issues such as Clean Air Zones and Ultra-Low/Low Emission Zones have sufficient time, clarity and financial support to ensure operators can make these transitions so we can avoid ever more cars on our roads. 

I’m convinced that we can ensure that the coach industry has the tools it needs to recover from the challenges of 2020 

Our work around the PSV Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) will continue looking to end the process of time limited exemptions to help provide certainty to operators and passengers. Part of this work will include pushing for a realistic date, combined with appropriate support, for when all coaches need to comply with PSVAR.   

It promises to be a busy year but with support from our members I’m convinced that we can ensure that the coach industry has the tools it needs to recover from the challenges of 2020.