Graham Vidler discusses CPT’s proposals to government and what will be required to revive a thriving coach and bus industry
Too many circumstances are described as unprecedented. But I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that the last few weeks have been unprecedented for the coach and bus industry.
I know times are difficult, but your trade association is fighting your corner, and I’ve been delighted to receive so many positive comments from members old and new on the work the entire Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) team has been doing.
If there is an issue where you think we could be doing more, please do get in touch.
As we all look towards 7 May and the expected announcement on how the government plans to gradually ease the lockdown, CPT is also now looking ahead. Specifically our focus is on how we ensure that the coach and bus industry can continue to play a critical role in the nation’s economic and social recovery.
On coach, we have moved onto the next stage of our Back Britain’s Coaches campaign and have submitted a detailed proposal to the government on the support the industry needs as it faces an 18 month winter through to the spring of 2021.
Convincing the treasury to part with £65m a month, which our research has shown is what is required, will be difficult. But I was encouraged that Transport Minister Baroness Vere committed to looking at the proposal in detail when I spoke to her about it last week. Thank you to everyone who has supported the campaign to date and please do continue to do so.
I’ve also been involved in detailed discussions, both with operators and the government, on how we ensure that bus services are able to move from the current emergency network to one with more comprehensive links as they are needed.
Passenger numbers will remain suppressed while social distancing measures are in place and we need the government to clarify exactly what is required, be it face masks or asking passengers to remain two metres apart, as we cannot expect bus drivers to police social distancing.
I’ve been making it clear to ministers and senior officials that reduced passenger numbers will mean a need for long term support until fare levels return in such numbers to allow operators to run a commercial network.
We are entering a period of this pandemic where there is the potential at least for people to be able to resume some of their normal day-to-day activities. While much is unknown about the next few months the need for a thriving coach and bus sector is not one of them.
We will keep fighting on your behalf across the country to deliver what you need to play your part in the coronavirus COVID-19 fight.