Coach and bus industry joins forces to voice concern for the future

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Reflecting growing concern across the bus and coach industry, Ian Downie, Head of Yutong Bus UK at Pelican Bus and Coach, is planning to write to the Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon. Grant Shapps MP, in order to highlight not just the devastating impact COVID-19 is having on the industry but also the vitally important and overlooked role that suppliers to the UK bus and coach industry have to play during these challenging times. Operators, manufacturers, organisations, and other interested parties are invited to add their name as a counter signatory, with the aim of securing the future of UK coach and bus industry and its hundreds of thousands of supporting roles. Ian invites any organisation wishing to be added to the letter to contact him on [email protected] with their details, no later than 1700hrs on Monday 18 May. The content of the letter is published in full below, and Ian advises that the content of this letter may change slightly should any industry funding announcements be made over the weekend.

“We are writing to you on behalf of the many hundreds of companies who make-up the supply chain which supports Britain’s bus, coach and road transport sector.

“We, the undersigned, have come together to ask you to work with us to help secure the future of UK bus and coach industry, thus safeguarding tens of thousands of jobs while at the same time delivering the UK Government’s clean air targets and facilitating social inclusion, with a comprehensive and accessible public and road transport network.
”Following the introduction of lockdown measures, bus passenger numbers have fallen by 90% and coach passenger numbers have fallen to nearly zero. Many operators have laid up over half of their fleets as they focus on running an emergency network for key workers.  Despite welcome government support, most operators will not be able to invest in their fleet until their businesses return to profitability. This means fleet investment is likely to be restricted heavily in the remainder of 2020, and well into 2021.

“We realise that you are already in close contact with the operating side of the businesses but we must not lose sight of the fact that a declining road based passenger transport industry would have far reaching implications not only for them but also for a wide range of supply and service focused businesses in the UK.
”UK bus and coach suppliers are a collection of dealers, manufacturers, importers, financers and suppliers who not only support the development of new buses and coaches, but also the aftermarket support of parts and services and the supply chain that this all creates. The UK market has a fantastic selection of businesses who have developed products and services which not only improve the UK environment but keep the UK population moving, with environmentally friendly vehicles and state of the art technology features for safety and improving passenger experience. The industry employs tens of thousands in the UK, across its length and breadth
”The entire industry was delighted by the Prime Minister’s pledge earlier this year to support investment in ultra-low and zero emission buses during his tenure.  However, the COVID-19 crisis represents an immediate threat to the future of the UK bus and coach industry and our extensive supply chain. Forward orders have already been drastically reduced, with many operators deferring or indeed cancelling their orders for new vehicles. Without immediate support future orders will not be forthcoming, putting tens of thousands of jobs and apprenticeship opportunities at risk.

“A significant “investment holiday” would sound the death knell for many of the businesses currently in the supply chain, many of whom are successful SME’s at the cutting edge of the Government’s clean air programme.  We must do everything we can to ensure that, when operators do bring investment forward, these businesses are there to support that investment with expertise to fast track the journey to cleaner air and ‘Net-Zero’ ambitions.

“It is vital that Government funding is provided immediately to enable bus and coach operators to invest in their fleets, and therefore their suppliers, with confidence. We urge you to work with us and bus and coach operators to identify mechanisms such as bus and coach scrappage schemes, procurement grants and support with financing or leasing arrangements which enable operators to continue to order vehicles and services at this time of great uncertainty.

“A number of the suppliers who support this letter of request would be very happy to meet with you and your officials to discuss further ways that we could work together to ensure the survival of this vital UK based industry sector as it strives to support the Net- Zero goal.”