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Operators Call For End To Social Distancing On Coaches

Matt Crisp April 13, 2021

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has laid out its COVID-19 recovery plans for the coach operating sector and urged the government to allow full capacity on coaches when it issues its review of the social distancing measures in June.

CPT’s recovery plan will have coach operators ready to resume coach tours by late April or May with a £150 million grant, and is hoping to get a government-backed campaign to support the industry, reports Planet Radio.

Graham Vidler, chief executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, told a meeting of the transport committee last week: “It is important that coaches are able to operate at their full capacity.

“Operators have taken huge steps to make sure that they are operating safely for both drivers and staff. It is really important that the social distancing review does not open up the rest of the economy and leave coaches behind, in a situation where you can only half-fill your vehicles.

“Nobody can run coaches profitably in those circumstances.”

He was speaking at a special session about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the coach sector.

Roads minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton said coaches will be treated in the same way as buses – although bus operators have been given funds on the basis that they cannot carry as many passengers as before the pandemic because of social distancing.

She said instead the coach sector has access to Additional Restrictions Grants, which “can help with the gap”.

Vidler explained to MPs on the committee that a scheme similar to the Eat Out To Help Out that supported the hospitality sector during 2020, would help stimulate demand for coach travel, as would VAT relief.

“Fundamentally, what is needed to accompany any financial incentive is clarity and consistency around the roadmap out of lockdown,” he told the MPs.

He explained that every time a minister makes a positive comment about vacations in the UK, customers start making bookings, but conversely, when a minister says that holidays in the UK might not be likely, customers start cancelling their bookings.

“A bit of consistency will both build confidence in customers that they can book for the future and help repair the finances of coach operators, who can be certain that come June, July and August – the months when the industry typically makes almost all of its profit – they will be able to serve their customers.”

Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston told the committee that for both domestic and international tourism, the coach sector is hugely important, providing great value in an ‘incredibly well-packaged product’.

“There is lots of enthusiasm for coach travel. With the environmental agenda and environmental tourism being increasingly important, it will be even stronger,” he said.

“We are confident that we will have strong domestic tourism this summer.”

He added that there will be an assessment of marketing and promotional activities, working closely with VisitBritain and destination marketing organisations, which play a key role across the country in marketing and promotion.

“Let’s make sure that coaches are included in that,” he said.

If you’re looking for coach hire in Birmingham, talk to us today.