Well, there is a question, what does it look like? To be honest I do not really know there is not one clear place that I would instantly go to that I can think of if the truth be told. Maybe my first port of call might be the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT). Or and there might well be biased here I might turn to the Bus and Coach Forum of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport as they also represent a large segment of the UK Bus and coach sector. Then again where do the big 5 transport groups sit within the mix, not to mention the highly respected ALBUM conference members.
So the obvious answer is that there is no one champion of the UK bus and Coach industry, which begs an important question, which is this should there be one? And if so what would it look like and what would it do?I suppose that the first function would be to create a brand for the Industry that could be used for the purposes of promotion. One area where sadly we fail badly is in my opinion selling the benefits of the bus and coach sector this is a big gap in our armoury in my view.
At a time of excessive driver shortage which with an ageing population it is imperative that we start to sell ourselves as a industry and equally important about the huge value that the sector brings to the nation. It is for me a source of some frustration that we fail to appear with any real visibility on the national radar.indeed in the past some very well known national media figures like Terry Wogan and Jeremy Clarkson would tirelessly abuse the industry on a fairly regular basis, in fact Mrs Thatcher started the ball rolling when she famously said that anyone aged 26 and over who still used buses had effectively failed in life.
Such damning tarnishing is never helpful and it is worrying to think that she made the comments circa 1986 the same year that she privatised the UK Bus Industry, now 32 years on it is hard to imagine what a national bus Company would actually look like. Mind you according to Mr Corbyn re-nationalising both the rail and bus industry are potentially on his radar, but who knows what will happen at the next general election.
So who do we think would make a good champion of the UK Bus industry/ It must be someone committed to the cause and as I think about it there are two candidates that spring to mind. The first is Professor David Begg a lifetime supporter of the Bus Industry, and a man who has always been honest and straight. Another champion is the charming and eloquent Clare Haigh of Greener Journeys. She comes over very well and her enthusiasm for the contribution made by the bus to the UK economy (along with cold,hard facts to support her claims from some of the top UK universities.) helps her really sell the benefits to society of this great industry.