Coach industry can do more to attract new passengers, says watchdog

01 March 2019

New research, from independent transport user watchdog Transport Focus, has identified changes that could radically improve public perception of coach travel and increase the use of this option, especially when going to or from an airport.

The research found that one third of people believe coaches are often uncomfortable, dirty or old and more than half think they are infrequent and often delayed by traffic or roadworks. Just 4 per cent of people made their last journey to an airport by coach.

At a summit hosted by Heathrow airport today, leaders from the transport industry including coach operators, the Department for Transport and Transport Focus have come together to discuss the research and plan how to promote action to improve future coach travel.

Speaking at the summit David Sidebottom, director at Transport Focus, said:

“It’s time to break the stigma around coach travel and to promote this travel option as the savvy consumer choice. Despite strong levels of passenger satisfaction among coach travellers, awareness of this option as a cost effective and reliable way to travel remains desperately low.

“Encouraging people to use coach to reach airports presents a major challenge to the transport sector, so it’s good to see government and the transport industry coming together to explore how the coach passenger experience can be improved so that more customers can discover the benefits of coach travel.”

Heathrow’s Surface Access Director, Tony Caccavone, said:

“It is crucial we find new ways of getting our passengers to use more sustainable modes of transport, and coach travel – an often overlooked but convenient and comfortable option – is an essential part of that. The research we are launching today is the first of many steps we will take as we look to change the way passengers and colleagues travel to and from Heathrow and do our part to control emissions.”

Aviation Minister, Liz Sugg, said:

“This research provides a valuable insight into passenger choice. It is clear that misconceptions need to be overcome so that coach travel is seen as a genuine alternative to the car.

“Through our Aviation Strategy and continued work with industry we are exploring how to meet rising passenger demand with action to reduce the environmental impact of our airports.”

Transport Focus’s five-point plan calls for:

  1. Government, industry and trade bodies must do more to develop a strategy which promotes coach travel as a value for money, sustainable option to other forms of long-distance travel
  2. The coach industry to work together to attract new passengers to the mode and challenge the existing stigma
  3. Better use of technology to improve visibility of coach journey planning and information
  4. Airports and airlines to work more closely with the coach operators to promote coach travel to and from airports
  5. The coach industry to publish performance data to help inform better consumer choice.

Transport Focus’s research Getting to and from the airport. Is coach an option? was published today.

For further information please contact: Kieran Watkins: 0300 123 0836

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