A new year, a new lockdown: CPT President Steve Whiteway urges continued unity by members in 2021

As we enter 2021, I recall how this time last year, outside of some obscure reports from China about a virus, our lives continued as they normally do.

Some 12 months later, things look vastly different, and despite our hope for a better 2021, the new national lockdown across the UK has understandably come as a further seismic shock to the industry. How much more can we take?

The first lockdown in March saw the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) quickly change its way of working to ensure members could still get the support they were used to.

While maintaining an eye on longer term policies, it was evident that only CPT could coordinate the key role of the industry’s response to coronavirus COVID-19. In this, it dedicated all its resources to helping its members and, as the voice of the industry, using its already well-established relationships with governments, national and regional, across England, Scotland and Wales to best effect.

So started the ‘Zoomarium’ revolution that has not just helped maintain contact with members but has greatly enhanced the accessibility of an organisation that has always been very much open house. The fact that more new members joined CPT in 2020 than in the five years before is testament that the service provided was an invaluable aid to getting through these troubled times, and whatever type of business our members run – operator or supplier – they are not alone, with advice, guidance and care readily available and easily accessible.

“The fact that more new members joined CPT in 2020 than in the five years before is testament that the service provided was an invaluable aid to getting through these troubled times”

Some might judge an organisation on how efficiently it manages to persuade the government to throw a financial lifeline to its members. In that, as part of a general push by trade associations, furlough came about as well as other pots of money which have at least meant firms can try and stay above water if nothing else. CPT was, and still is, a part of that, and fights well above its weight, with the support of the membership.

While it is fashionable among some to criticise CPT for the lack of sector specific funding for the coach industry, neither have any of the other campaigns been able to persuade the treasury that coaches are a special case. It is understandable that someone must be to blame, but in truth and backed up by the facts, CPT has been the lynchpin around which so much has been achieved and the only blame must be laid at the door of those who make the decisions about which sectors to support.

How much more can we take? We don’t know, the future is unpredictable. But CPT provides the bedrock of an industry that has a bright future, with one vision behind the only specialist trade association that knows the coach and bus industry inside out.