Graham Vidler, Confederation of Passenger Transport’s (CPT) Chief Executive, appeared before the Economic Affairs Committee on 29 September alongside Andy Bagnall of Rail Delivery Group, Rt Hon Norman Baker of Campaign for Better Transport, and Robert Griggs of Airlines UK, to discuss the impact Covid-19 has had on employment in the transport sector.
Graham took the opportunity to praise the government’s support for the bus sector through the provision of the Coronavirus Bus Services Support Grant (CBSSG), but emphasised that the situation for the coach industry is very different.
Asked whether the forthcoming job support scheme would help employers, he said that it will be of limited use to many coach operators who will be unable to meet the hours threshold required to be eligible for support, with those undertaking home to school contracts most likely to benefit.
Graham stressed to the committee that government messaging encouraging people to work from home has often damaged the public perceptions of the safety of public transport. However, he predicted a bright outlook for the bus sector that will see demand return as well as a return to leisure travel on coaches. He urged government to take action now to shape the travel choices people make in the future, including encouraging them to travel by bus and coach.
Following the session, Graham said: “The bus and coach industries have both been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, and whilst CBSSG has been a lifeline for the bus network, there has been no such support for the coach industry that is facing a loss of 27,000 jobs.
“Appearing before the Committee presented the opportunity to raise this issue, and the Committee must now take our message to government that they need to take into account the unique circumstances facing the coach industry and provide urgent support.
“It is also vital that the Committee tells government to ensure messaging encouraging people to work from home doesn’t slip into an avoid public transport message, and to take action now to shape how people travel in the future, with a strong pro-bus message.”