Stagecoach prepares plan for coping with ‘new normal’

Stagecoach has set out a plan for coping with the ‘new normal’ that may emerge following the pandemic lockdown. Chief executive Martin Griffiths has published a blog post outlining a six-point plan for short- and long-term changes that will help reboot the economy and protect communities.

“As government examines how to take Britain out of lockdown, we must make Covid-19 a defining moment to deliver fundamental changes in how we manage mobility and put sustainability at the heart of decision-making,” says Griffiths. “Public transport – particularly our regional bus networks – and active travel must be central to a transformed approach by all governments.

“The lockdown has shown how much the country is missing human contact. Buses provide that essential daily social link, helping combat loneliness and hidden mental health challenges. While some have switched to home working during Covid-19, for many that is not possible. Buses are delivering vital emergency links for key workers and they are as critical to our economy in normal times, linking everything from retail centres to manufacturing facilities. Leisure too is a shared experience that depends on extensive public transport connections.

“There is no reason why we all cannot return to safely using Britain’s most important public transport mode. Transitional support is an investment that will pay back many times over in helping our citizens, communities, economies and planet recover.”

Griffiths’ six-point plan includes a joint operational and investment plan between the industry and government to ensure a sustainable transition of Britain’s bus networks from the emergency levels of lockdown to more comprehensive links which support the country’s recovery. It suggests measures needed include steps to rebuild confidence in mass transit, a move away from peak-time commuting to spread demand, and investment in transitional support for transport operators as passenger numbers take time to grow. The plan also calls for a “grown-up conversation” on how to pay for the coronavirus pandemic, including a complete transformation in how transport journeys are taxed with a move to a system where the polluter pays and sustainable behaviours and use of buses, trams and trains, as well as active travel, are rewarded to make these modes more affordable and accessible to all.

Stagecoach is also seeking investment in decarbonisation, including sustainable transport and infrastructure, to help restart the economy and accelerating investment in electric bus fleets.