September 01 2021

Kevin Mayne, Operations Director at Maynes Coaches, writes this week’s blog post about the vital role of coach, from getting people safely to events to reducing carbon emissions.

It’s been over a year since the initial stages of the pandemic brought the world to a stop and with it our industry into a mothballed state. For our clients looking from the outside in, they can see and feel generational family coach operators struggle. Now the shoots of coaching work have begun and along with it the events we serve well. Seeing the industry re-start has been great, and the systems and protocols we have put in place show our industry in a new light as the safe method to get people places. The event industry relies heavily on our industry’s ability to get folk to events. From concerts to the Euros right back to grass roots football, coaching has showed its true colours standing up to help communities during Covid’s darkened days, to now return as the safe, sustainable and reliable way to get people to see the world again.

Many operators have invested heavily into the decarbonisation of our fleets, some so heavy that the pandemic meant very hard decisions had to be made. With the coach industry offering such an environmentally friendly method of travel, we need to get people out of cars and on board the coach, but to continue to invest in decarbonising our fleets we now need government funding. Operators simply are unable to get onto that financial step without help similar to what the bus industry has received. A Scottish minister agreed with me during a Zoom meeting earlier this year that the coach industry should be supported on an equal term to bus to get to net zero.

Having been away on tour myself this year it was alarming that coach parking bays were reduced and some even made into parking slots for campers. I see this as a short-sighted plan that was maybe part funded by the government and local councils to meet the staycation boom. The fundamental issue for coaches is time and space. We need good clear pick up, drop off and parking areas near the places we visit; if we give a group 1 hour to spend in town and it’s 15 minutes each way to walk, the expenditure is reduced per coach passenger in that town. Take the camper, they had 2 bacon rolls 2 coffees and a suntan, thing is… they brought it all with them, except the tan.

So, it’s great to see coaching return, coach operators have made plenty of noise during Covid myself included. Now we must continue that noise and engage with our peers to receive equal help to net zero, and to make sure that the places we serve treat our passengers with an open welcome. For far too long the coach has been treated like a crab. Everyone wants the meat inside, but never the shell. Now is the time to be recognised for the vital role we play in travel, tourism, and decarbonisation. Coaching matters!