The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact across the bus and coach sector. For this issue of Bus and Coach Professional, we have moved to a fully digital platform. We were determined to produce a magazine, reinforced by a wealth of positive stories from bus and coach operators and suppliers about how they are reacting to the crisis, and how they are planning for the sector’s recovery as the lockdown measures are eased, albeit at a very slow and steady pace.
There have been inevitable casualties already in terms of businesses and jobs lost, but equally, I sense a determination across this industry to use all available means, including the welcome support from the government which is benefiting many but not all companies, to ensure that there is a healthy future beyond Covid-19.
The timescales are deeply uncertain, but it is undeniable that people will want to travel again, both on local buses, in private hire groups and on coach holidays. Of course, safety, and people’s perception of safety is paramount and it is likely to be ‘baby steps’ towards a ‘new normal’.
There is still more that the government and other agencies could and should be doing however. Bus operators will need continuing support while passenger numbers are suppressed by social distancing measures; coach tour operators need urgent assistance with handling the twin challenges of huge demands for customer refunds and inability to operate tours anytime soon, and manufacturers need assurance that capital investment plans will not be shelved and real opportunities to build a low carbon bus future are not lost in the wake of the crisis.
The bus and coach sector’s greatest strength of course, and the reason it will survive this crisis, is the dedication and ingenuity of its people, at all levels, from drivers on the front line, to operating teams and the ever-creative suppliers.
Finally, we are very grateful to those advertisers who have supported us through this very challenging time, and in particular those who have backed our digital publishing initiative for Bus and Coach Professional.