The head of the body representing the bus and coach industry has warned that the closure of UK schools from tomorrow could put coach firms out of business if councils stop paying them.
Graham Vidler, chief executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), the trade association for coach operators across the UK, said: ‘This is an understandable decision and one which the Government has made in the best interests of tackling this outbreak.
A school bus in Carmarthen, Wales
‘We also need to have one eye on the future and ensure that home to school services that transport 100,000s of children to school each day are able to resume as soon as needed. Home to school transport provides local coach operators across the country with £4.5m of revenue daily, which is now under threat.'
Referring to a drop in tourism business, he added: ‘The industry is already suffering from cancellation rates of 70% and any further loss of this income would be devastating to operators. The Government needs to commit now to ensuring that local authorities continue to pay coach operators, which are predominantly small family businesses, as if these services were still running, to help maintain short term cash flow.
‘Without a guarantee of this critical source of income many operators will struggle to pay staff and keep their businesses running. Many family businesses, sustaining 10,000s of jobs, will simply go under and it will be impossible to resume services when schools return, meaning many families will be forced to find, at short notice, other ways to transport their children to school.’
Earlier this week CPT suggested that buses and coaches that are not being used for their usual could provide special services to community hubs such as shops and potentially make deliveries to those who need them.