Today, 5 May 2020, the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) is celebrating UK coach and bus workers with a social media campaign highlighting stories about those working on the front line and behind the scenes, and the key roles they are playing throughout the coronavirus pandemic. @CPT_UK www.cpt-uk.org
The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has launched ‘Back Britain’s Coaches’, a major initiative calling on the Government to provide support for the coach industry during the Covid-19 outbreak.
‘Back Britain’s Coaches’ will build on the successes CPT has had to date in securing support for the coach sector via business wide initiatives.
Specifically it has two immediate aims:
The publication of formal government guidance to support the Local Government Association’s view that coach operators should be considered leisure businesses, which would help them to access the Covid-19 business rates and grant schemes.
Alongside ABTA, securing an amendment to the Package Travel Regulations to allow coach operators longer than 14 days to process refunds and to issue refund credit notes as an alternative to cash refunds.
CPT also continues to work with coach operators to determine the amount of financial support needed to help the industry and make the case for coach specific support to government.
CPT has added a resource centre and member toolkit to its website giving members content to use to contact their local authority and elected representatives to access the support offered to leisure businesses, namely business rates relief and grants. CPT is also encouraging coach operators to provide information around the financial impact the outbreak has had on their business to help build the case for specific support for the coach sector.
Graham Vidler, CPT chief executive, says: “At this hugely difficult time, CPT is working with members across the country to ‘Back Britain’s Coaches’. To help shape the campaign, we have worked with coach operators across the UK to find out what support they need during this crisis, and will work with Governments across the UK to secure support for the industry.
“Anyone who would like to find out more about the campaign, and how they can support it, can visit the resource centre on the CPT website, which will include social media graphics people can share on their social media accounts to raise awareness of the campaign. CPT members will also be able to find resources they can use to contact their local authority to access support that is already available.
“Once the Covid-19 outbreak is over we will all need to work together to repair the damage done to our local economies. If we want to bring tourists back into our local areas, get people back in our theatres, shops, restaurants, cafes and bars, reinstate educational trips and help those who have been forced to spend a considerable length of time in isolation get back out and about, not to mention get people back to school and work, it is vital that coach businesses have the financial support to withstand the current crisis.”
To find out more about ‘Back Britain’s Coaches’ and to access the resource centre, go to https://tinyurl.com/back-britains-coaches
CPT will be tweeting about the campaign from its main Twitter account @CPT_UK using the official campaign hashtag #BackBritainsCoaches.
For more information about CPT, go to www.cpt-uk.org
The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) has issued advice to its members relating to the operation of continental European coach tours and private hires after Brexit on 29 March 2019.
Trade magazine routeONE covered the story in its edition dated 22 August 2018 and it is reprinted here for information.
Coaching abroad? Then consider ‘no deal’ Brexit
The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has issued advice to members suggesting that they should consider making contingency plans for the possibility of a ‘No deal’ Brexit in March 2019 as it “could impact” the coach industry, for operators carrying people outside the UK.
The CPT says it is not in a position to predict whether there will be a deal or not, but observes that if there is “no deal, and no agreed transitional period,” British coach operators will have no automatic right to carry on the business of transporting passengers on the roads of Europe after 29 March 2019.
There is an agreement (the Interbus agreement) that governs road passenger transport between the EU and most of its neighbours. This allows coach operators from Ukraine, Albania, Turkey etc to bring passengers into Europe and take them home again. Cabotage is not allowed, but negotiations are in progress to expand the agreement to include regular services.
It will be possible for the UK to become a party to the agreement in its own right immediately on leaving the EU, but it is not a certainty that operations can be carried under Interbus if they become illegitimate as a result of a no-deal Brexit. It would be possible for one or more bilateral agreements to be negotiated between the UK and other countries – such as the one that currently exists with Belarus – but no guarantee that this will be done in time for a seamless transition.
The CPT says: “If you are taking hire bookings, or selling holidays, that involve coach travel in Europe after 29 March 2019 you might like to consider contractual terms with your customers that allow you to subcontract all or part of the coach travel to an operator based outside the UK that is able to continue operating on the Continent. You might want to take legal advice on where the various contracts in the chain are best made and the consequences of the various options.”
In the airline industry, which faces a similar risk from a no-deal scenario, some operators are selling tickets for travel after 29 March with a clause that limits their liability to a refund in the event of it being impossible for them to carry the passenger for the journey they have booked.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) has given a clear message to the Mayor of London that the early implementation of the Euro 6 emission standard in the existing central London Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) in 2019, combined with the introduction of an expanded LEZ in 2020, will seriously impact on coach and group tourism in the capital.
On 8 April 2019, central London changes from being an LEZ and becomes an ULEZ, an Ultra-Low Emissions Zone. This will require the Euro 6 emission standard for coaches and buses. A daily charge of £100 will be levied against any coaches and buses that aren’t compliant.
From 26 October 2020 the existing London-wide (LEZ), an area roughly the area inside the M25, will require coaches and buses to be Euro 6 to avoid daily charges of £300.
The coach and bus industry is concerned that the time scales do not allow time for coach and bus operators with older vehicles to either replace or retrofit engines in order to ensure compliance with the new regulations. Facing this insurmountable challenge, many operators are understood to be considering increasing their prices to allow for the daily charges for non-compliant vehicles. These increases will have to be passed on to the customer. While operators believe that many customers will pay the extra charge, there is concern that overall, passenger numbers may drop, affecting both operators and the London visitor economy.
Commenting on the announcement, Simon Posner, CPT chief executive, says: “CPT has been engaged with transport for London (TfL) and industry partners for many years on a number of air quality and congestion reducing initiatives for London. A delegation of industry representatives, led by CPT, expressed their concerns in a meeting with the Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross, who clearly understood the industry’s position and acknowledged that any expansion to the ULEZ would present many operators with an insurmountable problem.
“CPT remains convinced that the expansion of ULEZ, in addition to the early introduction of the scheme in the central area, will have a serious impact on day-to-day coach operations as well as a detrimental impact on London’s tourism economy. While we continue to support the Mayor’s plans to improve London’s air quality, penalising visiting coaches which are part of the solution and not the problem is not the way to go about it.
“Buses and coaches are key to reducing pollution, alleviating congestion and providing quicker journey times in the capital, and it is extremely disappointing that this announcement fails to recognise the role that these important modes have to play. CPT and the coach industry plans to meet with the incoming Deputy Mayor for Transport, Heidi Alexander, in order to help find a workable solution for London, its tourism economy and visiting coaches.”
From 25 October 2021 the ULEZ is due to be extended to cover all of London inside the North and South Circular Roads.
A report commissioned by CPT found that London’s economy benefited around £186m from coach tourism.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) held its annual Coaching Conference at Volvo’s Warwick HQ on 15 November.
‘Embracing the Digital World’ looked at how the industry can take advantage of digital technology. speakers covered a wide range of topics including the use of social media, crowd sourcing, digital compliance, data protection and parking in Westminster.
I’m indebted to trade magazine Bus & Coach Buyer for permission to reproduce part of a full report by Chris Peat that gives a useful and informative update on the issues facing coach operators across the country. To see the full report, go to www.busandcoachbuyer.com
First speaker of the day was CPT President, Ian Luckett, who said the biggest challenge the industry is facing is that of air quality. Unfortunately, he believes the public has a negative view of the industry. “Sometimes we don’t help ourselves. All it takes is for the driver to idle and it wrecks the image. Generally, the public sees it [the coach] as a dirty, polluting beast.”
This, he believes, is certainly not the case and he notes how much the industry has invested in clean and new vehicles, even without the ULEZ necessitating it. He noted that at Lucketts, it is trialling the Irizar i4H hybrid coach, saying he believes these vehicles may become commonplace in its fleet. “Hybrid is an option we have got to look at. Other solutions are not open to us, not until better battery technology is available.”
The CPT has worked hard, he claims, to turn the industry’s negative image around and make it known as part of the solution to cleaning the nation’s air. The government is starting to “get it”, he said. “The CPT has made that happen by getting its voice heard. We have spoken to MPs about the huge strides we have made in fleets and the huge investments we have made. The gauntlet has been thrown down to local authorities: what plans do they have to tackle air quality at the local level?”
When it comes to engaging with councils, he said: “We must not wait for local authorities to come to us; we need to make the first move. Our CPT managers, that are here today, they are key to getting the message across. If you have a meeting with a local authority, take your local managers with you. They will be delighted to go. It always staggers me how little politicians know about the subject [of air quality]. We need to make sure bus and coach is front and centre of local authority plans.
“We need to persuade the local authorities to do something about congestion and then our service can be the contender for the car.”
“There are some who say the industry is in its twilight years. But I think we have just come into puberty; exciting things are going to happen.” He warned operators to keep up with developments though. “If you’re not careful, you will be the Nokia of this world.”
On the conference’s theme of digital developments, he noted the BBC website turned 20 recently and said that in 1997 there were fewer than 8m people online in the country. There are now 60m. “The digital world has evolved and there’s nothing to suggest it will slow down. As an industry, we have to embrace the digital world. It’s up to us to tell suppliers what we and our customers want.”
Friend or foe?
A picture of Donald Trump’s inauguration was shown at the start of CPT’s Director of Policy Development, Steven Salmon’s, presentation. He then showed another image of what was going on behind this photo, revealing a massed crowd. Steven said there were some crowd-sourced coaches that brought some of those people to the event, saying 750 vehicles were involved. These were organised by Rally, the US crowd-sourced transport provider. Steve said: “This turns our model on its head. We put supply out there and hope we can sell it.” He likened these online platforms to VAMOOZ, developed by the UK’s Transdev Blazefield.
Steven continued: “If we whizz across the Atlantic and head to Germany, we have FlixBus. They are best known for regular services. They are very interested in the whole coach market though. They have 42 software developers to bring together people who want to have a coach to those who want to supply it. It is ambitious and they are putting a fantastic amount of resources behind it.”
In the UK, there is Zeelo, described as pop-up coach travel for the crowd. Steven said it was started by looking at the university term-time market, linking people up from their homes to their university halls of residence. They then turned towards the world of sporting events and Zeelo now offers passes for transport to regular home games of select teams, creating regular customers. “However, they have fallen for the temptation of misrepresentation,” Steven claimed. The website claims it has a fleet of 20,000 executive coaches at its disposal. “I guess all of you are contracted to provide travel for them,” quipped Steven.
Arriva Click was his next example, based in Sittingbourne, providing travel around Kent Science Park. He described it as drawing bus-loads of people together in real time. The pricing sits between the local bus and the taxi, he said. “Industrial espionage”, to find out how many people are boarding these vehicles, is hard because of the vehicles’ tinted windows. However, he said that if people have not found out about the app for booking this transport, the service is largely invisible. Similar to Click is Slide in Bristol, a shared ride to work service. “Although I do wish they would come out with a different slogan – Better than bus.” Inevitably, Uber was mentioned. He said that in his discussions with the company, they find it harder to get drivers than they do customers.
So, are these newly emerging online platforms a friend or a foe? “It depends where you are. You could well see some disruption in the market where you are established, you have a brand, your brand has value and your people are going to come back to you because you give them the right experience, the right price. But clearly the platforms, or some of them, are trying to make that offer in terms of positioning, quality, price, which will flow right through to the delivery and then you as a customer will get what they want and come back to the platform. If you were an Uber passenger in London, you wouldn’t dream of going back to find the driver again, you would go back to the platform. This is the kind of idea people are thinking about. But you might find a platform is easier for you to engage with than engaging directly with customers, so you might now find you can get into markets you have not been able to. Ultimately, there is nothing to stop you starting a platform yourself.”
Social media is like marmite, according to Richard Grey, MD of Greys of Ely, either you like it or loath it. He started by asking the audience what social media is. The answer: computer-mediated technologies that help create and share information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. He turned the audience’s attention to the Conversation Prism 5.0, a diagram detailing social media platforms and their relevance to certain areas (a Google search will reveal this). He noted there is no coaching specific social media site on there. “It would be quite nice if we got Sn-ap or something sitting on there.”
When it comes to social media, often the question people ask is: “Is it relevant to my business? Will I be able to reach a target market with social media and digital marketing? What you’ve got to remember is we are now doing business in times when the audience, your customers and their children, are constantly glued to the internet, especially social media channels. Yesterday the coffee machine in the office broke, I fixed it using YouTube. The trend poses a great opportunity for operators to reach out to their audiences quickly and effectively.”
In the days of the Yellow Pages, Richard said you could spend thousands on advertising and not know if it was reaching your target audience. Social media ensures better aiming of marketing efforts, he claimed. “Today you can profile your customer down to the village they live in. You can start to see if the money you are spending is worthwhile.”
Social media is readily accessible for this marketing, he claims, “This is not for the likes of Nike or Coca Cola of this world, it can be for any size business.”
However, has it replaced normal communication with passengers and staff? “No, I don’t think it has, it’s just a different environment we’re working in. We wouldn’t not answer a phone call or an email, so why fear replying to a Facebook comment? You should be involved. Irrespective of your opinion, people will have a view of your business and they will be talking about it on social media.”
At Greys of Ely, Richard has a closed Facebook group for its staff, allowing communication between them, which is on top of notice boards and letters. It asks its drivers to send pictures in when they are on tour, which gives the company content it can use for its own marketing. It also tells them exactly the number of people that have seen internal communications. “It works well, it’s a good way of communicating with staff.”
Social media is also changing the language we use too, Richard said. He gave the example of his 11-year-old daughter who already uses such abbreviations as BRB, TTYL and the like.
So which social media platform should an operator use? Facebook is perhaps the most well-known. Richard suggested operators ensure they use a business account when using this, stopping any personal posts getting mixed up with professional ones. The same applies with Twitter. LinkedIn is the professionals’ social media account and unlike the previously mentioned ones, Richard said the best tactic to use with this is to accept everyone, even if you do not know them. Accepting as many people as possible helps get your message out to a wider audience. There is also an option of having a company account.
YouTube, the video sharing website, can also be a good platform for operators, with Richard posting promotional videos on the site and then reposting them on other social media platforms. “Visual content is important. We have a light-hearted mix on there. Our voice on it is smart, but quite comical, maybe silly.”
Greys had a deal of interest online for its ‘Mr T on a coach’ YouTube video (https://goo.gl/Luj77i). “The week after its launch, we picked up a contract for a large technology company from Cambridge. One of their senior people leaned over and asked the driver, ‘So, is Mr T onboard?’” One promotional video it produced used special effects to show Richard throwing Greys’ livery on one of the coaches. Another was made on May the 4th (Star Wars day) and saw an epic space battle unfold in the skies above the operator’s depot. Which one cost the least? The Star Wars one; it was created using an app freely available on the internet. “It doesn’t need to be mega bucks.”
Richard uses Google Analytics to figure out the best time to post on social media, aligning his posts when most people are active on these platforms and therefore getting the maximum amount of views. So for example, LinkedIn views tend to be most prevalent first thing in the morning or later in the day after work has finished. Of course, giving customers a platform to communicate also opens the possibility for people to post negative comments, which can then be seen by other customers. “When this happens, my wholehearted advice is to get the conversation offline. Don’t tell people they are wrong on social media. Or, just concede a bit.”
Richard gave an example of social media perhaps not working in his favour. It was during a trip to a sports event in Manchester which he was providing several vehicles to transport people for. Of the 24 coaches making the journey, one broke down, and happened to have BBC Cambridgeshire’s sports reporter onboard. He was on Twitter, announcing his coach to the game had broken down to his multitude of followers. “Things quickly snowballed,” resulting in Richard receiving a phone call from the broadcasting company. Luckily, CPT’s media response service helped him out, but the result is that Richard now seems to be the ‘go to’ person for coach industry insight for BBC Cambridgeshire.
He asked the audience if they had a social media policy. Even if the company does not use social media, it may be that staff do and Richard suggested documentation is put in place to explain to them the power of these online platforms and how employees should conduct themselves on them.
Following a lunch break, the next speaker was Steve Fox from the Traffic Commissioner’s Office. In November 2016, there was a relaunch of the way the Office works with operators online. The new web-based system was designed to make it quicker and more convenient for new and existing vehicle operators to apply for and make changes to their operator licence. One of the advantages of this is that data the Office holds on operators can be changed in seconds, according to Steve. This is advantageous for not only operators, but the Office because prior to this, a lot of information held was out of date. “This data goes to DVSA’s enforcement team, so it is critically important the data is current and up to date. Data that is often wrong is something like a phone number. If that’s wrong, then it gets them wondering what else is wrong.”
Since the launch of the ability to apply and make changes to licenses online, there have been 40,000 licence changes made in this way and 200,000 vehicle alterations made digitally. He noted changes and applications are made using Verify, an identity verification system, which makes input from the operator legally binding. However, this is not proving as popular as hoped because it is aimed towards citizens rather than businesses, but this is changing, according to Steve.
The system has reduced the application time for licences from nine to seven weeks, Steve claimed. It has achieved less than seven weeks on average in the last six months. The goal is to achieve four weeks.
The new digital system also features Companies House reporting, matching operator’s data held there with the office’s own forms. This is especially helpful when a business changes its trading stance, with the change often being registered at Companies House, but not as often at the Traffic Commissioners’ Office. It is also alerted of any more changes to an operation’s information.
The website has also been given a user feedback link. “We are keen on understanding what users like and what we need to improve. Our team looks at this once a week to see what didn’t work and what customers want to see. It informs decision making.”
User feedback is high, Steve reports, giving the figure of 81% satisfaction in July 2017. The majority find it easy to use, according to its own research. “We hope it does what it says, which is to help make it easy to become compliant.”
Steve said: “There will come a point where we will switch off all paper correspondence. It’s about two years away. The Traffic Commissioner’s objective is to have total digital compatibility by April 2019.”
One way the office’s digital systems are to be developed is by looking at its data and document retention work. “We are going to start deleting data. We hold onto it longer than we should.” This is in line with the upcoming Right to be Forgotten, one of the key principles in data protection law.
David Morris of DRM Bus asked about bus service registrations. “You need to do something on them and no messing.” Steve replied saying digital bus registrations are on the Office’s road map to deliver, but said they are a complex piece of work.
Coach parking in London is always an alluring topic and Kieran Fitsall of Westminster City Council showed how it is moving towards the digital age. One of the biggest challenges he faces is how does he fit in the 600,000 vehicles that visit the eight-mile square area daily? Another challenge is air quality. The primary aim is getting drivers to make the journey as easily and quickly as possible. “We don’t want them driving round looking for parking.”
Kieran said: “If people choose not to use their car but use passenger transport, then we have achieved our goal. We do generate income but from people parking illegally. The aim is not to issue people with parking tickets, but what we have tried to do is change the focus to be about providing a service for customers.”
Kieran said the way parking is charged has changed, with cash parking meters removed due to theft. Customer satisfaction with transactions with these cashless mahines is at 98-99%, according to Kieran. Coaches in the city generally require a voucher to allow parking. Smartphone parking apps have become commonly used. This has been opened up to different apps, with a variety now available.
Over 3,500 sensors have been installed in Westminster’s parking spaces, including some coach parking bays on the Embankment. These can talk to a device and notifies that the space has been taken, providing real time information of availability. This information is done per rank, rather than for individual bays. The data collected from this is being used to predict and show where parking becomes available.
He acknowledges that coach parking in London is an “absolute nightmare”, saying: “There is not enough coach parking in central London.” The organisation has been in talks with the CPT concerning this. “We are keen to understand any ongoing problems.”
Aside from parking, another issue Westminster council has addressed is vehicle idling and the affects that has. An action it has taken on this is the #dontbeidle, a social media campaign aimed at increasing knowledge of and cutting out this practice.
Looking further ahead in parking in its area, Westminster council has been interested in accessing parking data for an occasion when autonomous vehicles become commonplace and exploring how that information can be shared with car manufacturers.
Are you protecting data?
Giving some insight into what operators might need to consider in the wake of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was Keith McNally, Operations Director at CPT. He said: “The GDPR might not be relevant if you have no customers, no CCTV or have photographic memory.” Coming into force on 25 May 2018, Keith described it as the biggest change to data protection in a generation. Should companies worry? To put it into perspective, he gave the example of TalkTalk, which was fined £400,000 for a cyber attack that accessed customer data. Under GDPR, the fine could be up to £59m. It is not just companies that will be affected, enforcement actions can be taken against charities and the police.
Taking care of this data protection is the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). “If someone makes a complaint to ICO, they will come after you. They might be perceived as nasty, but they are willing to help.”
Personal data needs protecting, which is considered anything about a natural person, not businesses. There are certain categories of data that are regarded as sensitive, such as employee records, beliefs, relationships, etc. “These need treating in a sensitive way.” Keith said some of the things businesses need to think about include: customer records, staff records, credit card details, CCTV, telematics and school bus passes.
Data protection is not just about ensuring computers and tablets with information are secure, but any structural set of data, including paper files. You should already be compliant with the Data Protection Act (DPA) and must be registered with the ICO, claimed Keith.
A privacy notice is needed, which covers what you use the data for. Consent must be kept in mind. “Everyone is familiar with boxes on websites that are pre-ticked. There has to be a positive opt in; you have to say you want their information. They also have the right to withdraw that consent.”
There is also the ‘right to be forgotten’, which gives them the justification to have any details of theirs deleted where there is no compelling need for them to be kept. The right to data portability comes into play too, which allows customers to obtain and reuse their personal data for their own purposes across different services. For instance, they can have data on transactions transferred from one to another operator. They will also have the right to object to profiling. Under GDPR, if there has been a breach of personal information, then it must be reported within 72 hours.
To start with, Keith suggests reviewing what data you have and where it came from. He said: “If you have data you are not using, get rid of it. Think about what companies you work with that might have your data: booking systems, CCTV companies, credit control. If they have access to data you control, you need to talk to them about their role.”
Under the new rules, people will have the right to a Subject Access Request (SAR), giving them access to data on themselves, including CCTV footage. Under current rules, you would have the right to charge them £10, which will no longer be the case. You also currently have 40 days to comply, which will fall to 30. You must consider redactions too. If there are other people in the CCTV footage, then how do you show the person requesting the footage and not someone else?
Keith said: “You need to look at the lawful basis of what you do with data. Have they given you consent?”
Keith suggested identifying what gaps you have and what you need to do now, check the guidance from ICO and get some advice in time for the May 2018 deadline. More information from www.ico.org.uk
A scheme that encourages UK destinations, visitor attractions and tourism suppliers to become ‘coach friendly’ has welcomed its 51st member.
Organised and managed by the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT), ‘Coach Friendly’ status recognises and rewards a commitment to understanding the requirements of coaches and their passengers, while also providing first-class facilities, access and information for drivers.
The scheme, first introduced in 2003 to focus on towns, cities and villages, has now recognised 28 UK destinations. The scheme was extended in 2016 to include visitor attractions. Blair Castle and Scone Palace in Scotland, and the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, were awarded the prestigious status this month.
Destinations and attractions wishing to apply for the status should contact the CPT. The CPT’s regional offices will then visit the destination or visitor attraction to carry out an audit of existing facilities for coaches and groups and, where necessary, make recommendations. It is understood that a number of destinations and visitor attractions are currently going through the process, with announcements due shortly.
For more information, go to www.coachfriendly.co.uk
Recipients of the ‘Coach Friendly’ status
‘Coach Friendly Town, Cities and Villages’ status has been awarded to:
– Rochester (2003)
– Stratford-upon-Avon (2004)
– Windsor (2004)
– Southport (2004)
– Salisbury (2005)
– Scarborough (2005)
– Eden Valley (2006)
– Chester (2007)
– Bury (2008)
– Lichfield (2009)
– Alnwick Castle & Garden (2010)
– Alnwick Town (2010)
– Ironbridge Gorge (2011)
– Cardiff (2011)
– Liverpool (2011)
– Coventry (2012)
– Shrewsbury (2012)
– Chesterfield (2013)
– Burnham-on-Sea (2014)
– Devizes (2014)
– Llandudno (2014)
– Nantwich (2015)
– Perth (2015)
– Blackpool (2016)
– Bournemouth (2016)
– Conwy (2016)
– Betws-y-Coed (2016)
– Inverness (2016)
Since the scheme was expanded in 2016 to include visitor attractions, the following attractions have been awarded the status:
London and South East England
– ArcelorMittal Orbit, London
– Chatham Historic Dockyard, Kent
– Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway, Hampshire
– National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art, Newmarket, Suffolk
– Woburn Abbey & Gardens, Bedfordshire
– Boundary Mill Stores, Grantham, Lincolnshire
– Boundary Mill Stores, Walsall
– National Memorial Arboretum, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire
– Sabrina Boat, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
– West Midland Safari & Leisure Park, Worcestershire
North East England
– Boundary Mill Stores, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tyne and Wear
– Boundary Mill Stores, Colne, Lancashire
North West England
– Oswaldtwistle Mills Shopping Village & Garden Centre, Accrington, Lancashire
– Blair Castle, Perthshire
– Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop, Dumfries and Galloway
– Scone Palace, Perth
South West England
– The Bishop’s Palace, Wells, Somerset
– The Merchant’s House, Marlborough, Wiltshire
– Stourhead (National Trust), Wiltshire
– Wells Cathedral, Somerset
– Parc Slip Nature Reserve, Bridgend
– Talyllyn Railway, Gwynedd
– Boundary Mill Stores, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
The third London Tourist Coach Forum, an annual event organised as a result of the launch of the London Tourist Coach Action Plan in 2014, took place in the capital last month.
The event, held at the Prince of Wales Theatre in the West End on 18 November, was organised by the London Tourist Coach Action Board and chaired by the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT).
It was attended by local councils, industry stakeholders, coach operators, tourism organisations and London businesses.
Stephen Smith, CPT’s Operations Director, opened the Forum by speaking about the recently published CPT-commissioned Steer Davies Gleave report into the economic benefit of coaches to London’s tourism economy. He said that in 2015, 12 million domestic tourists arrived in London by coach, plus one million international tourists. Each year 21,500 tourist coaches visit central London and there are 235,000 tourist coach movements in central London. He reminded delegates that the consultation on the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) closes on 18 December, and operators are urged to respond to it, even if they’re not based in London.
Ben Plowden, Director of Surface Transport Strategy and Planning at Transport for London, explained how coach tourism was a key part of the Mayor’s strategy of ‘A City for all Londoners’. Ben outlined that the Mayor’s focus is very much on social media and how these platforms can assist coach operators in planning their journeys and accessing coach parking facilities.
He told delegates that the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has placed air quality at the top of his agenda. Full details are in the document ‘A City for all Londoners’, which he urged people to read, and respond to the consultation, which closes on 11 December. Ben said that in terms of air quality, the new Mayor “wants to go further and faster than Boris Johnson did”.
Delegates heard about other measures being introduced by TfL, including:
– significant improvement in the flow of information about the roads network, so coach drivers can plan their trips.
– working with the CPT to inform its Twitter feed, and having a monthly column in trade magazine routeONE which is used to provide other information.
– an ongoing, and successful trial of mixed-use kerbside bays that allows coaches to drop-off and pick-up passengers at Park Lane/Cumberland Gate, Vauxhall Bridge Road and Commercial Street.
– plans to extend some current 20-minute bays to 60-minutes so that coach drivers can take their legal rest breaks.
– ongoing updates to the online version of the London coach parking map
TfL works together on all of this with Camden and Westminster councils (covering the tourist heart of the city), alongside the London Councils umbrella body; the London Tourist Coach Operators Association (LTCOA), European Tourism Association (ETOA), CPT; plus London & Partners (the capital’s official promotional company) and Society of London Theatre, representing the capital’s 67 theatres.
Cllr Heather Acton, Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Parking with Westminster City Council explained that the council’s coach provision is 68 daytime bays, using pay-by-phone, plus 16 20-minute short-term bays (free of charge) and eight overnight bays in Bullied Way. She said that around 3,000 coaches a day enter the borough, and there are 36 uses of kerbside space, from taxis, to deliveries and cycles, which means that there’s high competition for this limited resource. She told delegates that the opening of the Kingsway parking bays had been a success and, subject to TfL approval, they’ll be extended to operate from 10am to 11.59pm.
One of the biggest issues remains Buckingham Gate, due to its proximity to Buckingham Palace and the attraction of the Changing of the Guard, which, she said, creates congestion, noise and air quality issues with its use by coaches. She recognised that the ‘cat and mouse’ game of ‘circling’ to try to find drop-off points and parking increases coach movements and has air quality issues. To combat this, parking technology using the ParkRight app works with sensors to show where a free bay is, and then routes the driver to it. She said that it is hoped, subject to funding, to extend this to all coach bays in the future.
Nick Greenfield, Head of Tour Operator Relations with ETOA, and representing 200 tour operators and 650 suppliers from around the world, explained what ‘coaching heaven’ (Amsterdam) looks like, compared with coaching ‘hell’ (Italy). He took the opportunity to share some ideas of best, and worst, practice.
The vital importance of tourism to the London economy was set out in considerable detail by the London & Partners Acting CEO Andrew Cooke. He told delegates that the organisation’s strategy is economically-based, focused on ‘good growth, and tourism can help this. He said this is based on attracting visitors who spend the most, rather than those who spend little.
Against a background of three years reduced tourism since 2012, he explained that in 2015 there were 18.6m overseas visits to London, a 7% increase. With an average spend of £640 per visitor, they generated £11.9bn (up 1%).
While the US just edged ahead of France in 2015 as the biggest source of visitors (2.14m, compared with 2.07m for France), short-haul European market generates the most traffic.
But the most valuable market for London, by spend, is the USA, whose visitors spent £1.81bn – more than double the next closest, France at £0.76bn. But all this pales compared with the £8.1bn spent by the domestic market.
The Forum concluded with a lively question and answer session where the subjects included coach parking, congestion, engine idling and coaches being considered as part of key tourist location planning decisions. There was general consensus throughout the room that all parties must continue working together through the London TCAP in order to achieve these objectives.
The city of Inverness has become the 28th recipient of the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK’s prestigious ‘Coach Friendly Towns, Cities and Villages’ status.
The status acknowledges the commitment made by Inverness to understand and meet the requirements of coaches, drivers and passengers arriving in the city.
Jeremy Tinsley, manager for CPT Scotland says: “Highland Council, in partnership with Inverness Business Improvement District (BID), has worked tirelessly over several years to deliver and provide high quality facilities in Inverness for visiting coaches and their passengers. It has made excellent provision in terms of passenger pick-up, drop-off and coach parking and CPT, drivers and passengers alike are delighted with the service provided by the Coach Ambassadors who offer a true ‘Highland Welcome’.”
Alf Scrimgour, CPT’s tourism executive and administrator of the scheme, says: “We are extremely impressed by the way all the stakeholders in the city have pulled together to present a true ‘Coach Friendly’ face to the industry, its vehicles, staff and visitors. Inverness clearly appreciates the value of coach tourism to the city and region, and this Coach Friendly status is very well deserved.”
Mike Smith, manager of Inverness BID says: “BID is delighted to have worked with the Highland Council on delivering a successful coach friendly facility in Ardross Street. This drop off and pick up area will be used by a fantastic 1,900 coaches this season – up 18% from 2015. The feedback from coach passengers, guides and drivers is that they all are very pleased with the “Welcome” we have provided for them.”
Provost of the city of Inverness, Councillor Helen Carmichael, says: “This is great news for our ‘City in the Highlands’ which not only prides itself on our ‘Highland Welcome’ but recognises the major economic importance of the tourist industry and the vital part that the coach travel sector plays in making Inverness the fourth most popular destination in Britain. A dedicated coach drop-off and pick-up point supported by the appointment of a Coach Ambassador has greatly enhanced the coach tourism experience for visitors to Inverness. Central Ward Members have been instrumental in ensuring that the new arrangements at Ardross Street are a success and are most supportive of the Award. Congratulations to everyone who has helped to make this happen.”
The formal presentation of Coach Friendly Status to Inverness will be made at the CPT Scottish Conference on 4 October.
CPT has also launched a new website giving details of its ‘coach friendly’ initiative. There are details of the recipients of the ‘Coach Friendly Towns, Cities and Villages’ status, and the recently introduced ‘Coach Friendly Visitor Attractions’ status. For more information, go to www.coachfriendly.co.uk
Bus and coach industry trade magazine routeONE is reporting (23 August) that the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) has commissioned a London coach study, focusing on “the major areas where coaches have a pivotal function such as tourism, commuter services, scheduled express services and home-to-school”.
CPT says: “Recognising the importance of London as a destination and the significant part coaches play in supporting the capital’s economy, CPT has commissioned a study of the London coach tourism sector as an integral part of London’s transport network. Against a background of the ever greater challenges to improve the environment and keep London moving, the aim is to provide a definitive picture of the contribution the industry can make towards these goals and demonstrate the positive aspects which, on occasions, have been overlooked.”
The findings are expected to be published in the autumn.
Details have yet to be announced explaining how this new study links in with the London Tourist Coach Action Plan, the joint initiative introduced in 2014 between Transport for London and CPT that aims to find solutions to the challenges faced by coach operators working in the Capital.
The popular north Wales destinations of Conwy and Betws-y-Coed have been awarded the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK’s prestigious ‘Coach Friendly Towns, Cities and Villages Status’.
The status, established in 2003, recognises the work and commitment that towns, cities and villages have made to providing coach operators, along with their drivers and passengers, a warm welcome and easy access to key visitor attractions and facilities in their area.
Neighbouring Llandudno was awarded the status in November in 2014.
Commenting, Alf Scrimgour, CPT’s Tourism Executive, says: “These three tourist locations in north Wales, which are all part of the Conwy Development Board, may all be very different in terms of what they have to offer visitors but they each make every effort to both attract and provide a warm welcome to visiting coach groups.
“I am delighted to see that Llandudno continues to go from strength-to-strength, further improving its offer to coaches and coach parties. Despite being much smaller resorts, Conwy and Betws-y-Coed have shown a real understanding of the requirements of coaches and coach groups by developing suitably located coach parking, pick-up and drop-off points close to key attractions and facilities. I have been particularly impressed by the ongoing commitment of the Conwy Development Board in maintaining and improving the overall offer to visiting coach groups.”
Accepting the status on behalf of Conwy, Betws-y-Coed and Llandudno, Councillor Graham Rees, Chairman of the Conwy Strategic Management Board says: “Coach passenger travel is a growing and valued market segment to the tourism industry in Conwy County, and a vital income source to accommodation and service providers of the county. It provides the county with an environmentally friendly mode of transport for visitors especially as they travel around the beauty spots of the county.
“The value of the CPT Coach Friendly status has been clearly identified in our 2015-18 Destination Conwy Action Plan. We see it as a great honour and are very proud to be the first UK destination to have three of its resorts achieve this status. We will strive to have our other resorts and attractions achieve the required standards to obtain these and similar awards.”
Conwy and Betws-y-Coed bring the number of recipients of the award to 27.