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CPT’s Ambitious Five-Year Plan For The Next 5 Years

The Confederation of Passenger Transport have put together a manifesto for the next government on how to  make the most of the UK bus and coach industry.

50 Years Of CPT

Next year, the Confederation of Passenger Transport celebrates 50 years of supporting the UK’s bus and coach industry. They play a pivotal role in support of the industry across a broad range of key issues, and this landmark year certainly needs to recognize the significant contribution that CPT has given to companies and businesses, both large and small.

2024 is shaping up to be the year of elections. Not only are we anticipating a general election, but in May, mayoral elections will be happening across the UK. Keeping this in mind, the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), known for their effective lobbying in the bus and coach sector, has laid out a five-year manifesto for whichever party takes charge at Number 10.

Manifestos For Bus and Coach

“Driving Britain Forward” is a 6-point plan that will support the bus industry to the very best benefit of the nation, as it calls upon the next government to implement

  • A 5-year funding settlement for the UK bus sector.
  • Targeted measures to keep fares low when the national fares cap ends.
  • National and local targets to increase bus speeds.
  • A new statutory, funded definition of essential bus services.
  • A long-term government and industry partnership to drive the transition to zero-emission bus travel.
  • A workforce strategy led by the industry but supported by the government.

Skills Shortage Register

The sector needs joined-up thinking, which has emerged only fairly recently. Mostly out of necessity, following the pandemic. It is crucial that whoever takes the helm, needs to work collaboratively if, as a nation, we are to achieve zero carbon emissions and all the life-saving benefits that it brings.

The management and support of national fares and essential services, encompassing both rural and urban areas, necessitate concerted efforts from central and local governments. Without their intervention, operators will struggle to facilitate a modal shift, particularly on congested roadways where traffic priority becomes imperative. Even with top-quality buses, competitive fare structures, extensive networks, and skilled drivers, the operation is destined for failure if vehicles remain stuck in stationary queues, unable to move.

Equally important, if as an industry we cannot source drivers, an area where the industry seriously struggles, then we can never achieve our goals to provide excellent public services. The driver shortage report by CILT revealed that a staggering 94% of bus companies could not cover their scheduled mileage due to driver/engineer shortages. What needs to happen is for drivers to be added to the national skill shortage register, as CILT has requested without success to date.

Access All Areas

The manifesto requests the following:

  • Issuing clear guidance to include coach services in their local transport plans (LTPs).
  • Viewing coaches as part of the solution to local air pollution.
  • Working with industry on a net zero strategy for coaches.
  • Simplifying the legislation on accessible travel.
  • Supporting an industry-led workforce strategy.

Coach, The Hidden Gem

As CPT described, the coach is the “hidden gem” of the UK transport network. For so many years, coach operators have struggled to gain access to key city centre locations with very often limited or no access to parking or amenities. This has been a problem for decades. Of course, it needs sensible discussions, but often local councils do not get the real benefits that coach travel offers, be they tourists or locals.

The ongoing debate surrounding accessibility requires resolution, and it is hoped that the upcoming government will enact positive initiatives to address this longstanding issue. Additionally, there is a need to acknowledge the constructive role coaches can play in mitigating air pollution, an aspect often overlooked and deserving of greater recognition.

Let us hope that whoever wins the keys to Number Ten Downing Street will take these learned suggestions seriously. Surely, if you intend to address climate change and the enormous threats it presents, then changes will have to be made. But we, as an industry, will collectively continue to lobby for the sector that can do so much for so many, at such little cost. What is most vital is that we do not give up on our ambitions to keep asking for the support that we need to create the very best operating circumstances for the bus and coach industry, an aspiration that all of us at uTrack are committed to achieving, hopefully sooner rather than later.

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