The Confederation of Passenger Transport has called for a £150million government grant-based scheme to support English and Welsh coach operators and give them the same support already available from the governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Its Backing Britain’s Coaches and Backing Wales’s Coaches strategies were launched in late March along with a call for government-backed backed campaigns to promote coach travel to passengers and locations. The CPT also wants chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend repayment terms for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBIL) that he committed to last September.
The Welsh campaign seeks £7.5million in grants, developing the coach offer as a key component of Wales’s tourism strategy and a national clean air fund to help coach operators invest in new vehicles or retrofit older ones.
The difficulties facing the coach industry after 12 months of pandemic restrictions were laid bare on 24 March when operators’ representatives addressed MPs on the House of Commons Transport Select Committee. CPT chief executive officer Graham Vidler, who fears that ‘coach-free deserts’ could open up in parts of the country, joined Nigel Skill, chairman of Skills Group of Nottingham, Candice Mason, director of business at Masons Mini Bus & Coach Hire in Hertfordshire, and Michael Pearson, transport manager at Peterlee-based TM Travel Durham. This online evidence session was followed by another with England’s buses minister, Baroness Vere, and tourism minister Nigel Huddleston.