It is no secret that businesses of all shapes and sizes have been impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. However, the pandemic has been particularly harmful to the coach hire industry. From coach hire trips being cancelled due to travel restrictions to no school buses required during lockdown, coach hire companies have seen their business revenues plummet by almost 98%!
20,000 job losses by the end of the year
According to recent statistics, the industry is preparing for 20,000 job losses by the end of the year, with nearly 40% of coach hire companies expected to cease trading all together by 2021.
Being hugely worrying times for the industry, many business owners have decided to take action, coming together to create the ‘Honk for Hope’ campaign. This campaign saw 200 coaches hit the roads of Wales and honk, spreading awareness and sending a clear signal to the world that the industry needs support in order to survive.
Rose Williams, of Williams Coaches, said:
“When Covid hit in March, we should have been going into the busiest time. But unfortunately, everything stood still.
“It’s the summer that sees the operators through the winter to meet the payments that we have on a monthly basis, and these payments are still there!
“The finance payments on the coaches, the mortgage payments, the rates, the insurances. The bills keep coming in with no income at all.”
Jason Edwards, of Edwards Coaches, said his business went from having 310 coaches in the road every day to just three.
“The losses have just been magnified to levels we’ve never experienced before. It’s totally unsustainable, unless the industry gets some support, balanced support from government pretty quickly.
“You sit back then ask yourself, who’s going to take the children to school, who’s going to take people to the tourism airports, cruise companies so on. It’s a massive effect really.”
Does more need to be done to save the coach hire industry?
While the Welsh Government has already pledged over £1.7 billion to businesses to navigate themselves through the pandemic, many coach hire professionals believe more needs to be done to help the industry to survive.
“Our unique £500m Economic Resilience Fund is part of this and has already supported thousands of firms in Wales, including coach operators,” a Welsh Government spokesperson said.
“The Welsh Government’s budget can only go so far and that’s why businesses need the UK government to go further and provide the financial support to recover from the pandemic.”
What do you think? Should there be more tailored support in place for transport companies providing vital services in Wales?