At the coach evidence session for the Transport Select Committee, chaired by Huw Merriman, MPs were told that as many as 40% of coach operators could become insolvent when the repayment of CBILS loans begin in June.
Graham Vidler, Chief Executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport said “Coaches are a vital section of the public, affordable, accessible and environmentally friendly. At least 9 million people made a trip by coach in 2019, 2 million of those were holiday trips and 3.5million on day trips.”
Three coach operators set out in black and white the plight of the industry, explaining the source and size of their current debt, the social importance of coaching and their fears for family-run businesses. One of these, Masons Coaches have seen a devastating impact on their workload during the COVID crisis, most of their work was running school contracts and home-to-school services that previously ran under contract to local authority and since schools were closed during the pandemic, they were not able to claim payments for that work.
Transport minister Baroness Vere and tourism ministry Nigel Huddleston made it clear that there are no plans for the bail-out.
What is likely is that regardless of age, customers will expect increased onboard safety measures for at least the medium term. That will extend from school children to older passengers who take day trips and holidays by coach.
The UK Coach industry needs to be ready to take advantage of the bounce back, a reluctance or restrictions to travel abroad will surely mean a much need boost for the industry.