March announced as launch for RHA Coaches

RHA’s Coaches division will launch on 1 March, said the trade association, as it announced the appointment of Andy Warrender to a major steering role.

Andy Warrender.

Memberships will be accepted from 19 February, with fees fees from £150 to £800 depending on fleet size, and early applicants will qualify for a range of extra, free benefits. This package kicks off with two ’round table’ webinars – 4 March sees the critical role of the coach examined, and on 18 March, RHA Coaches hosts another event charting the roadmap of a greener future, looking at likely emissions technologies.

The RHA’s Managing Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Rod McKenzie, opened the most recent webinar presentation, citing several examples of the ways in which RHA has been able to highlight issues and get action for its current, mainly haulage, membership. Charting the depth of the problem within the coach industry, he said: “For this sector, there has been no support or people have struggled to get support,” he said.

He suggested that as much as 80% of revenues for coach operators derive from tourism and leisure, but said the rates relief and other grants offered to the tourism and leisure sector did not reach coach operators: “We need to reclassify the coach sector as leisure and tourism businesses.”

Rod McKenzie said he saw the re-emergence from the pandemic the most pressing issue but said RHA Coaches already has the issue of Clean Air Zones for coaches on its radar: “The restrictions in cities misunderstand the role of coaches in cities. Coaches have the best emissions of any other form of transport including trains. You have a positive story to tell.”

Asked by a delegate how the RHA hopes to succeed where other trade associations have failed, he said: “It’s about how we raise these issues and who with. Until now, I think the coach sector has faced a glass ceiling, with nothing elevated above junior ministers. We won’t allow that to happen.

“We have routes directly to Grant Scapps and Michael Gove – a more sophisticated level of communication. Now we have some excellent civil servants and ministers but their instinct is to kick problems into the long grass.”

All of the RHA Coaches series of webinars, explaining how the RHA is set up to help operators, are available HERE

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