How do governments within Europe contribute to the survival of bus and coach operators during and after the COVID-19 crisis
Speaker Anna Gronlund –Deputy Managing Director, The Swedish Bus & Coach Federation, Vice president IRU, International Road Transport Union, Passenger Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org
Impact of COVID-19 in Europe
Bus and coach traffic has decreased, but it varies a lot between the different segments in the business and between the European countries:
- Charter operations down by 100% across Europe
- Commercial long distance coach services down by 95% across Europe
- Suburban and urban bus traffic (organized by the PTA or tendered out totally or partly) has decreased above 50% across Europe
- In some countries the suburban and urban bus traffic has decreased with 100% due to restrictions for citizens to be outside their own homes
- School services down by almost 100% in many coutries: NO service NO revenue. But in Sweden the schools are still open so here the companies still run the services.
The impact relates not only to the decrease in revenues and the additional costs needed to implement social distancing measures in transport vehicles and infrastructure, but potentially dire consequences on employment in the passenger transport sector.
What we really need as a sector
- Direct support, especially to SME companies – bus and coach sector not getting any direct benefit from schemes. The provision of special funds is urgently required to sector
- Indirect support, specifically relate to the postponement of repayments on overdraft facilities, bank advances, loans, mortgages and leasing operations in particular should be done without delay
- Agreements with the PTA or the governments on national level for the companies who run suburban and urban tendered bus traffic – at least cover the fixed costs
- Additional Government support schemes to our drivers and other employees in the transport sector, depending on the model for each country
- Temporary changes in the legislation(s) – for example, rules on Passenger rights and Driver Training need to be flexible as these are extraordinary circumstances and the situation is beyond the control of the companies – it’s a force majeure
We will for sure need collective transports after this
- To limit the social, economic and financial consequences, exceptional measures must urgently be adopted by governments so that the sector survives. The decision makers need to ensure basic continuity of the passenger transport services as they are essential for society and the economy.
- These measures, including financial support, need to be deployed very rapidly to private transport networks in order to ensure the continuity of services during the crisis and to swiftly resume regular operations once COVID-19 is under control.
- We, as a sector, must raise our voices that urban and intercity transport and coach tourism are all vital to the economy and any support measures would not only benefit the sector but also the whole of society – jobs, growth and investment.