The Coach Tourism & Transport Council (CTTC) has stated that in the face of unprecedented economic and climate crises, the private bus sector forms a crucial part of Ireland’s transport network – but increased Government support is needed.
In its pre-Budget 2022 submission, the Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland has urged the Government to reconfigure its national transport strategy, and recognise the crucial economic and social value of the sector. The representative body believes that as the economy and society re-opens, now is the opportune time to leverage the strategic value of the industry – but it has warned that this will only be possible with increased Government support, as the sector remains hugely damaged as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In its submission to the Government, the CTTC has requested the following:
- A resumption of the Business Continuity Scheme, with increased funding, ring-fenced for coach tourism – a sector responsible for attracting two million tourists to Ireland every year
- A sustainability fund and incentives for carbon neutral alternatives
- Reconfiguration of Ireland’s transport strategy
- Increased funding for driver training
- Insurance reform
Given that the private coach sector currently supports 11,000 jobs and contributes more than €600 million annually to the Irish economy, it is imperative that any threats to its survival are directly addressed as part of Budget 2022. The role of the sector in supporting Ireland’s economic recovery post-pandemic has to be recognised, and its role in providing vital regional connectivity must also be acknowledged. As the climate crisis intensifies, an efficient, reliable public transport system is the only way to encourage a modal shift away from private cars. The CTTC contends that with Government support, the private coach sector can help to facilitate this.
Commenting on the ongoing issues, John Halpenny, Chairman of the CTTC, said:“It is crucial that the Government acknowledges the strategic importance of the private coach sector in Budget 2022 and implements the recommendations outlined in our submission. While the industry has endured an extraordinarily difficult last eighteen months, the membership is keen to play a role in providing sustainability solutions while driving the popularity of Ireland as a tourist destination.”
“Of particular importance to the industry, is the pressing need for a full resumption of the Business Continuity Scheme, with increased funding ring-fenced for coach tourism specifically. The funding package allocated to this important sector in the July 2020 Stimulus Plan did not meaningfully help to offset the huge losses caused by the pandemic and this needs to be addressed. Specific funding is the only way to guarantee the survival of the sector which is responsible for attracting two million tourists to Ireland every year. Our members are committed to playing a part in leveraging the full potential of the Irish tourism product and helping to spread economic activity in the regions, post-pandemic.”
“Climate change is another crisis which is making itself ever more apparent. The Government has previously acknowledged the vital role that the private coach sector will play in decarbonising the Irish transport system but coming on the back of a severely depressed market as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, operators do not have the financial bandwidth to invest further in their fleets until capacity levels resume to pre-pandemic levels. Therefore, introducing a Coach Transport Sustainability Fund to enable operators to purchase alternatively fuelled vehicles is crucial for policy ambitions to be realised.”
“Lastly, if the Government is committed to delivering a sustainable transport network, then a fully funded reconfiguration of our national transport system is required. To encourage a modal shift to public transport away from private cars, we must provide an efficient, reliable service for commuters. With the deployment of additional resources such as ‘park and ride’ facilities and an enhancement of Quality Bus Corridors, this vision could be realised and the consistency of services would greatly improve and journey times would likely be reduced.”
“I would strongly urge the Government to implement the recommendations outlined in our pre-Budget submission, to ensure a return to regional prosperity through the transportation of international visitors and that their vision of a sustainable transport system is realised. We stand ready to facilitate a modal shift away from private cars – but we need targeted supports and sectoral reforms to do this.”