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The first trade association in the transport industry was the Tramways Institute, formed in around 1890 and comprising managers of mainly company-owned horse tramways. In 1897 the newer electric tramway operators formed the Tramways and Light Railways Association (T&LRA), made up of both private companies and municipal tramway operators. After the T&LRA was formed, membership of the Tramways Institute declined. In the last decade of the nineteenth century the Omnibus Owners Association was formed to look after the interests of omnibus owners who, in those days, were mainly representing horse drawn public transport.
In 1902 municipal operators broke away from the T&LRA and subsequently formed the Municipal Tramways Association (MTA), leaving the T&LRA as a largely private sector organisation. The British Electric Traction Company (BET) was its largest member.
In the 1920s and 1930s there were various name changes to reflect the growing emphasis on buses and trolleybuses and the inclusion of London Transport (19330. By 1939, the MTA became the Municipal Passenger Transport Association and the T&LRA had become the Public Service Transport Association. The personalities involved with the municipal sector bus operators in England and Wales had their own body, the Association of Municipal Transport Managers (AMTM).
Scotland gained its own organisation in 1921 at the instigation of R. Stuart Pilcher. He had been a municipal manager at Aberdeen and Edinburgh and was later to move to Manchester, before becoming Chairman of the Traffic Commissioners in the West Midlands. The Scottish Road Passenger Transport Association was born out of the Scottish Tramway Association and included the four main municipal transport departments north of the border (Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow), the Scottish Bus Group companies, a number of individual members and, despite being based in Edinburgh, state sector operations in Northern Ireland.
With the continuing growth of the use of roads by powered motor vehicles, a need for representative bodies developed regionally with many associations being formed. Examples included the Northern Road Transport Owners Association Ltd (based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne), The United Bus Owners Association (Wrexham - covering the North West area), The Shropshire Omnibus Association Ltd (Oakengates) and the Coach Operators Federation in the South West.
The Passenger Vehicle Operators Association Limited (PVOA), based in London, and consisting of many of independent operators and descendents of loose groupings existed since the re-appearance of competition after the first world war. The PVOA had 9 area offices - Northern, Yorkshire, North Western, Metropolitan Eastern/South Eastern, East Midlands, West Midlands, South Wales, Western and Scotland.
Over time the activities of these groups developed as governmental control and regulation of the growing industry increased. The Road Traffic Act 1930 both regulated and significantly changed the public road transport industry and was the catalyst for many structural changes within the industry. Before the Second World War, the majority of road passenger transport operators in the UK were in private hands and although the passenger road transport sector had been regulated in 1930, the possibility of nationalisation was becoming very more likely after the war.
With this possibility looming large, from the 1940s organisations representing road transport, such as the British Road Federation, the Road Haulage Association, the Roads Campaign Council and the Passenger Vehicle Operator's Association increasingly campaigned on aspects of transport policy.
The British Road Federation issued Road Transport and the National Plan in 1942, and in 1955 The Case for a National Highway Authority. In 1943 the Omnibus Owners Association and the Public Service Transport Association merged to form the Public Transport Association (PTA) based at Victoria Coach Station, London. It became the largest organisation of its kind. The PTA covered England and Wales, including the territorial companies, a number of municipal transport undertakings and 23 independents, some of which were quite small.
The Road Haulage Association published material opposing the nationalisation of road haulage, including one entitled Germany was beaten in 1943, State Controlled Transport Led to Failure: It Must Not Happen Here and the Passenger Vehicle Operators Association issued Free Enterprise or State Control: Some reasons why it is in the best interests of the country that road passenger transport should be left free to serve the public. Both were published in 1946.
Despite this, nationalisation did commence following the war and a number of new trade organisations were formed to reflect the changing structure of the industry. There were threats of huge passenger transport areas being created to take all road transport into government control, but these failed to materialise as a result of post war changes in government. Eventually a return to a Labour Government saw the creation of the first Passenger Transport Authorities and Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs), formed under the Transport Act 1968. Bus operators, fearing the prospect of PTE takeovers, mergers or absorption, formed a loose "anti Passenger Transport Authority" alliance spearheaded by the Passenger Vehicle Operators' Association. Nevertheless, the first four passenger transport areas and their PTEs (Manchester, Merseyside, Tyneside and West Midlands) were formed in 1969 and 1970.
The Municipal Passenger Transport Association reconstituted itself as the Association of Public Passenger Transport Operators (APPTO) to reflect the creation of the PTE's. AMTM also became the Association of Passenger Transport Executives and Managers to reflect the same changes. Representation for the passenger transport sector had to reflect these changes and so the Confederation of British Road Passenger Transport (CPT) was born in 1974 and was based at Sardinia House in London's Lincoln's Inn Fields. It was the successor to PRTA, PVOA & SRPTA (the latter became the Scottish Council of the CPT). CPT's corporate membership consisted of bus and coach operators in the UK and was divided into 4 sectors (Nationalised, Transport Executive, Local Authority, Coach & Independent Bus). There were also some overseas and associate members.
With the birth of CPT, APPTO dissolved itself at the end of 1975. In 1976 the remaining responsibilities of the group were assumed by the Association of District Councils, which was itself formed in 1974 following the local government reorganisation. In 1997 the Local Government Association was formed following the merger of the Association of County Councils, Association of District Councils and Association of Metropolitan Authorities. It continues to be based in London. Following the deregulation of the industry it became known as the Association of Local Authority Bus Company Managers (ALBM), representing the professional views of the Executive Directors of those bus companies owned by district council, passenger transport authorities and Scottish regions. It looked at matters specifically affecting publicly owned bus company management and operations.
Under the Transport Act 1978 the non-Metropolitan Counties were given power to co-ordinate public transport facilities in their areas.
In June 1982 CPT assumed the trading name Bus & Coach Council as a prelude to the Conservative Government's stated aims to deregulate and eventually privatise the passenger road transport industry. Coach operations were first to be deregulated. The organisation became more commercially minded to reflect the changes in the industry.
One development was the creation of Bus & Coach Training Ltd, the industrial training organisation for the PSV industry. It was supported in a number of major projects by public funds through the Training Commission as well as by direct grants from the B&CC. Company policy was developed by a board of 22 Directors, 12 of whom were nominated by BCC Council, eight by Trades Unions and two by Educational bodies. The board was supported by a small Executive Committee and three Steering Groups specialising in developing standards for Managers, Supervisors, Maintenance Engineers and Bus and Coach Drivers.
The organisation was originally based in the same premises as CPT, but later moved to Rickmansworth and the staff there were supported by a Standards Manager based in Wolverhampton and a number of part time consultants providing a regional service. The organisation's title later changed to Transfed and the organisation moved back to join its CPT parents at Imperial House located in Kingsway, Central London.
Bus & Coach Services Limited was also set up at this time as a wholly owned subsidiary of B&CC. It operated on a commercial basis to offer products and services to BCC members. Under the 1985 Transport Act, and as a prelude to deregulation, the major role of shire county Transport units changed to secure socially necessary services that were not provided commercially. The Association of Transport Co-Ordinating Officers (ATCO) was created to represent their interests.
De-regulation of the bus sector finally took place in the Autumn of 1986, followed by privatisation. To reflect these changes a new structure was adopted by CPT in 1987. In particular associate status was extended to tendering authorities. There were now section A,B,C and Associate members. In 1994 the organisation had become the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) to reflect that it now additionally represented the fixed track passenger sector in the UK - tram, metro and other light rail interests.
In November 2006 CPT moved from Imperial House, to its current modern home in Drury House close to London's Covent Garden.