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CPT’s challenges in 2011

Posted: 6 May 2011 | Simon Posner, Chief Executive, Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) | No comments yet

The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) is recognised by Government as the voice of the coach, bus and light-rail industries and is the focus for consultation and negotiation on national and international legislation, local regulations, operational practices and engineering standards.

The benefits of CPT membership are not solely political and include a broad range of operational, technical, business and media services delivered by dedicated transport professionals within CPT. We have also developed, with a number of strategic industry partners, a range of commercial services for the exclusive benefit of members.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) is recognised by Government as the voice of the coach, bus and light-rail industries and is the focus for consultation and negotiation on national and international legislation, local regulations, operational practices and engineering standards. The benefits of CPT membership are not solely political and include a broad range of operational, technical, business and media services delivered by dedicated transport professionals within CPT. We have also developed, with a number of strategic industry partners, a range of commercial services for the exclusive benefit of members.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK (CPT) is recognised by Government as the voice of the coach, bus and light-rail industries and is the focus for consultation and negotiation on national and international legislation, local regulations, operational practices and engineering standards.

The benefits of CPT membership are not solely political and include a broad range of operational, technical, business and media services delivered by dedicated transport professionals within CPT. We have also developed, with a number of strategic industry partners, a range of commercial services for the exclusive benefit of members.

We believe that membership of CPT is a business decision which delivers short, medium and long-term benefits to coach, bus and light-rail operators. After more than 50 years of decline in bus passenger numbers, we have, in recent years seen the tide turning. Since 2007, we have seen over 5 billion passenger journeys made every year using buses and coaches in Britain. Unlike rail, the bus network reaches all corners of the country, connecting the smallest villages to the largest cities. One of the main reasons why the bus network is used by so many people is that it is socially inclusive and accessible.

Like bus we are also seeing a renaissance in light-rail, since 2000 we have seen passengers increase by 66%. The Government has recently announced funding for the extension to the light-rail systems in both Nottingham and Birmingham. And later in 2011 we will see further extensions open on Manchester’s Metrolink and a brand new fleet introduced to Blackpool.

Following the general election, one of the first challenges the industry faced was making the case to the new government that proposals to cut or reduce the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG), – a partial rebate on the fuel duty bus operators pay – would not be productive. CPT worked hard with our members to ensure it would not be cut or abolished as part of the Comprehensive Spending Revue, seriously effecting operators’ ability to operate more marginal and peripheral bus routes. The Government’s announcement in the CSR that BSOG will be cut by 20% in 2012 and frozen at the new rate until 2015 was disappointing, although CPT is pleased that the industry was listened to and the cuts kept to a minimum.

In the autumn, the Government started a consultation on the reimbursement of Concessionary fares publishing new guidance in December. This resulted in new tighter guidelines which many of our members believe will make it unlikely that the local authorities will meet the legal no better off/no worse off principle. Operators will suffer real loss which could lead to substantial cuts in services, to the detriment of both concession pass holders and fare paying passengers. CPT continues to lobby the Government to ensure that reimbursement of concessionary fares is made on a fair basis.

The industry is also adapting to the impact of the reduction in local authority grant supports to bus services and other changes to the funding of local authority bus schemes and services.

Perhaps the key factor which will continue to exercise operators is the rising cost of fuel which, not only impacts on the viability of services, but indirectly affects operators’ operating costs. With higher fuel prices, CPT through the Greener Journeys campaign is promoting modal shift, particularly as one double-decker bus can replace up to 50 car journeys.

Making bus and coach accessible for all is good for the environment and the economy. While the UK economy faces enormous challenges, cutting bus services will reduce employment in the bus industry and also reduce investment in new buses, with consequent implications for the industry’s suppliers. Fewer and more expensive bus services for those who depend upon them may make it harder for those seeking employment to find and subsequently travel to work. In the long-run, cuts in government funding will result in reduced bus patronage and increasing car use, outcomes which run counter to the government’s carbon and congestion reduction objectives.

It is pretty clear we have a challenging 2011.

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