March 17 2021
This week’s blog post is from CPT Cymru Director Josh Miles, who writes about what is next for Wales’ bus and coach industry, from the election in Welsh Parliament to the return of home to school transport.
The next few months is set to be a busy period for bus and coach operators across the UK, with all nations looking at lifting lockdown restrictions, schools returning and the continuing vaccine rollout, hopefully leading to some normality by summer.
Here in Wales, the election to the Welsh Parliament on May 6th is a key juncture for us all, and at CPT Cymru we’re putting together documents with a series of clear asks for the bus and coach industry that will help the sector restart and play its full role in the Covid-19 recovery. Recently I spoke to members for their input into a Welsh Government consultation on tourism recovery and it was clear from my conversations that operators are eager to get back to doing what they do best, providing a quality service for passengers.
Wales is a country blessed with beautiful landscapes and castles, and the coach sector plays a vital role in allowing people to visit them. Our Chair of Coach Commission Chris Owens and I met with senior Welsh Government officials to discuss coach tourism in Wales, which will feed into the Welsh Government and Visit Wales’ plan to support the tourism industry’s recovery. Government backing will go a long way to helping operators get back on the road which will not just help the tourism and economic recovery, it will mean people can reconnect with family and friends, some who have been isolated for months now.
It was positive to hear Transport Minister Ken Skates saying that the Welsh Government are committed to promoting active travel and public transport, and operators look forward to providing the bus services passengers need as people return to work, to school and to our towns and cities. The additional £18.6 million for the Bus Emergency Scheme to last until September will help to increase bus services promptly and safely as demand for bus travel returns.
CPT Cymru led on discussions about the need for continued support, so it is good that Welsh Government was listening. Looking further to the future, the Bus Steering Group, currently being set up by the Welsh Government, will be focusing on issues where the bus sector can work in partnership with the Welsh Government to drive change, including decarbonisation, network planning, and ticketing; through working together we can make a real impact and tackle these important issues.
The next challenge facing operators is the return to school on 12th April. CPT Cymru and our members are in talks with Welsh Government about how we can work together to make the return to the classroom as seamless as possible. Of course, members will be kept up-to-date through regular email updates and through the new weekly newsletter ‘This Week in Wales’.
I look forward to working alongside members, raising the profile of the bus and coach sector as we approach the elections in May and securing the support we need so that all bus and coach operators can thrive.