Coach Policies

Coaches offer inclusive, accessible and flexible transport to millions of people each year, which includes getting 600,000 children a day safely to school, contributing £14billion each year to UK tourism, and providing emergency transport when other services such as rail and flights are cancelled or diverted. Here’s what’s needed to enable coach operators to continue to offer the huge range of coach services millions of people depend on.

Download CPT's Manifesto for the Coach sector: Access All Areas


Local Transport Plans

Too many LTPs fail to recognise the importance of coaches and their potential role in alleviating congestion, improving air quality, and supporting economic activity. At best, many simply consider access for long-distance scheduled services to bus and coach stations. Coaches provide a sustainable means of access and mobility in exactly the same way that other forms of mass transit do.

Coaches can deliver high-spend visitors in a way which minimises congestion and minimises emissions. They provide a good value alternative to trains, cars and air, reducing social exclusion and opening up opportunities for leisure and tourism across the income spectrum.

The next Government should impose a statutory duty on local transport authorities to collect data on the current and potential coach market and require authorities to consider in their LTPs appropriate drop-off/pick-up and parking facilities for the scale and range of coach operations, scheduled and non-scheduled, serving their area. Local authorities should be guided to ensure that bus priority measures are available to coaches unless there is a specific reason to exclude them and to provide clear information about coach facilities.


Clean Air Zones (CAZ)

Carbon emissions of modern coaches are 6 times lower per passenger than private car travel, yet coaches are always the first mode of transport to be charged to operate in a clean air zone and operators seeking support to upgrade their engines to modern standards face a postcode lottery of local funding schemes.

A better approach would be to recognise the air pollution benefits that coach travel can bring and maximise the role of coaches.

The next government should create a new class of clean air zone which enables councils to charge vehicles with a heavier pollution footprint while exempting coaches. It should also establish a national fund to support operators with upgrading their engines – the estimated cost of £75m to update 5,000 coaches will be reduced still further if councils are enabled to exempt coaches from charges.

For more information about how buses and coaches can improve air quality, click here.



Coach is already the greenest way of travelling across the country with lower greenhouse gas emissions per passenger than any other mode, including electric cars. The industry would like to go further though, and has started the long journey to a zero emission fleet. As the work of CPT’s zero emission coach taskforce has shown there are significant barriers which need to be addressed before substantial change can be achieved.

The next government should therefore publish a net zero strategy for coaches, including key dates and measures. This strategy should include:

• Government investment in zero emission refuelling and recharging infrastructure suitable for coaches across the Strategic Road Network
• Government investment in research and development to develop vehicles with longer ranges, including as part of the UK’s Hydrogen Strategy and Industrial Strategy
• An interim fuel duty incentive for low carbon fuels so that coach operators can run the cleanest fleet possible while waiting for zero emission operation to become viable


Zero Emission Coach Taskforce

Coach is a sustainable and environmentally friendly travel option and encouraging more people to leave their cars at home and travel by coach instead would have a dramatic impact on carbon emissions and air quality.    

The latest Euro VI coaches emit less nitrogen oxides per vehicle than the latest diesel cars and an increase of just 15% in coach passenger journeys each year would lead to approximately 47 million fewer car journeys on the road, a reduction of over a quarter of a million tonnes of carbon dioxide and significantly less congestion on our roads.    

CPT’s Zero Emission Coach Taskforce brings together key industry experts including coach operators and manufacturers, infrastructure and finance providers and government observers to identify the challenges to decarbonising our coach fleet, supported by industry evidence. 

The most significant barrier identified by the taskforce was the current lack of certainty over zero emission technology This lack of clarity has resulted in hesitancy, preventing the sector from moving forward. 

The report produced by the taskforce outlines the barriers identified in greater detail with supporting evidence, and informed our response to the government’s recent call for evidence on ending the sale of new non zero emission coaches. 

You can read the full report here. 

The final phase of work from the Taskforce has identified potential solutions, collaborations, and recommendations to enable the coach sector to begin its journey towards net zero. 

You can read the full report here. 

Nonetheless, the coach industry recognises that the future of road transport is zero emission but there are several obstacles that need to be overcome for coaches to make this transition, as identified by CPT’s Zero Emission Coach Taskforce. The sector requires:  

  • Government investment in zero emission refuelling and recharging infrastructure suitable for coaches across the Strategic Road Network 
  • Government investment in research and development to develop vehicles with longer ranges, including as part of the UK’s Hydrogen Strategy and Industrial Strategy 
  • The introduction of a fuel duty incentive for low carbon fuels that recognises the savings in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to enable coach operators to reduce their emissions whilst the sector waits for zero emission vehicles to become more viable. For example a company running on 100% HVO, which delivers 90% GHG savings, would receive a 14ppl discount, whereas if they were running on a 20% blend, they would receive a 4ppl discount. This would help incentivise operators to use the lowest carbon option available and help offset the loss of energy intensity. 



Coach services lead the way in accessibility, offering the only realistic longer-distance travel option for many older and disabled people. But the so-called PSVAR legislation governing access to vehicles for disabled people is too complex. Disabled schoolchildren’s entitlement to travel with a wheelchair, for example, is dependent on the happenstance of whether or not the school or council procuring the service charges any parents for travel.

We need a clearer definition of PSVAR, which gives disabled people confidence in travelling inclusively whatever their journey, and gives operators absolute clarity over the need to invest in suitably-adapted vehicles.

The next government should simplify the PSVAR legislation to ensure that all ‘open door’ coach services (those where passengers are not known in advance) are operated by fully-accessible vehicles and that operators provide a fully-accessible vehicle for any ‘closed door’ those where all passengers are known in advance) service where a passenger requests it.



The availability of drivers is a crucial factor for coach operators to continue to grow. Latest CPT research reveals there is currently nearly a 14% vacancy rate across the UK.   

CPT has been working closely with its members and the Government to address these shortages but levels remain stubbornly high.  We have delivered a comprehensive recruitment & retention best practice guide, a ‘Thank you Driver’ recruitment campaign highlighting the rewarding nature of a driver’s role, and worked with the Department for Transport to action a range of other issues identified at a joint summit in November 2022.  

CPT is also part of TFL’s Women in Bus and Coach initiative which is designed to encourage more women into the profession.   

We now call on the Government to produce a Workforce Strategy, in partnership with the sector, which supports the UK’s Industrial Strategy and Hydrogen Strategy and would address a number of other challenges that we continue to face. We believe the Strategy should include moves to enable new recruits to progress with the off-road elements of the Category D (bus & coach) driving test, whilst awaiting their provisional licence and to deliver greater flexibility for 18 and 19 year-old drivers who are currently restricted to regular services up to 50 kilometres in length.  Action in these areas would bring us into line with the flexibility already enjoyed in the freight sector, help make a career in coach more attractive to young recruits, and help cut down on those lost after the job offer stage of the recruitment process. 


In Summary

The coach industry is proud to stand on its own feet and will continue to do so. A little engagement and investment from the next government though would go a long way to help the industry fulfil its full potential and connect more people to more destinations, boosting economies and minimising the environmental impact of travel.