Of all the sectors in the UK, public transport has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 outbreak. Bus and coach ridership is down 90% and many operators have stood their vehicles against a wall. Government support via the Job Retention Scheme and additional industry funding have been very welcome and have helped mitigate some of the damage, but most operators are grappling with significant losses during lockdown and beyond.
Once we are past the current crisis we believe advancements in automotive technology will transform the future of mobility, with the role of buses and coaches becoming increasingly important. However, in order to survive and have the confidence to invest in new technology, the industry needs clarity. To achieve this, we need a National Strategy, created with input from manufacturers and operators, as has been promised by the government.
UK bus operators and manufacturers were very pleased by the Prime Minister’s February pledge of a £5 billion fund for investment buses and cycle links during this Parliament, crucially in ultra-low and zero emission buses and bus priority measures. However, to overcome the immediate crisis and to begin work preparing for the future, we would like to see this pledge either partly or wholly brought forward into this year.
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