Promoting a people industry in Peterborough – National Coach Week

Peterborough is today’s (9 April 2024) stop in the RHA’s series of events across the UK as part of National Coach Week. It is the second of five dates on the tour, which sees the trade organisation promote the coach industry during the annual event, now in its third year.

The event took place in the Cathedral Quarter of Peterborough, right in the heart of the city. The team from RHA were on-hand to welcome members of the public and other interested parties, providing information on the coach industry. As well as promoting the sector in general, the aim of the day was to encourage people into driving and engineering roles in coaches.

B&CB Editor, Mark Williams, getting to grips with the RHA’s driving simulator

Those interested in getting behind the wheel of a PSV could give it a try at the event, albeit virtually. RHA brought its bus simulator, allowing people to get behind the wheel with a driving instructor in a simulated driving experience. Developed by Tenstar Simulation, the impressive bit of kit has a driver seat and steering wheel surrounded by a set of screens that act as the windows around the driver’s cock pit. Participants have to put the ‘vehicle’ in gear, steer and apply the throttle and brake as they would in a real bus or coach, reacting accordingly to the simulated environment around them. A virtual urban-setting gave participants the chance to test their driving skills, interacting with not just the roads but traffic and pedestrians (there are even road accidents to deal with).

The simulator trailer was joined by a coach from nearby operator, Fowler’s Travel. A team of staff from the firm were present, talking to any members of the public about their fleet and what working in the coach industry is all about. Bland’s, another local operator, also supported the event.

Being a public careers event, support for the day also came from C9 Recruitment, an agency that has been placing people in the PCV industry. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) were another supporter.

Promoting people

The Peterborough leg of the tour followed the first day’s stop at Grindles Coaches in Gloucestershire, where the RHA team met with Mark Harper, the operator’s local MP and Secretary of State for Transport. Andrew Warrender, Operations Manager – Coaches, told B&CB about the trade organisation’s meeting with the MP: “It was very good. We discussed the key issues of the industry and he left with a copy of our manifesto.

“One of the things we noticed was that there was a realisation that bus and coach are not the same, we feel like he had got the grasp of that. He was also well aware of the skills gap in the industry. And we talked about the decarbonisation agenda; it was very interesting.

“The whole exercise of this National Coach Week is about skills. At the end of the day, it’s a people industry. It’s about getting back on the map.”

He highlighted that ongoing development of autonomous buses has scope to reduce costs for the industry in some urban settings, but similar savings are not possible with coaches, emphasising the necessity of a person onboard in this sector.

In particular, Andrew said there is a need to attract the crucial 18 to 20-year-old age range when recruiting in the coach industry. “We made that case yesterday to the Secretary,” he said. “I had a member contact me last year that had some youngish drivers wanting to start with him. They were long standing car drivers, but when it came to insuring them, the insurance company wouldn’t even look at it.”

Andrew emphasised that it is down to not just a single entity in the sector to support National Coach Week: “It’s not about highlighting any particular business, this is an industry event.”

Catch up with the tour at the remaining stops:

  • Wednesday 10 April, 10am to 2pm – Remit Training, Derby (by invitation only)
  • Wednesday 10 April, 2.30pm – Lothian Motorcoaches, Edinburgh – Public careers event
  • Thursday 11 April, 9.30am – 12.30pm – Pelican Yutong, Castleford – Zero-emissions pathway for coaches and the implication for skills (invitation only)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses some unobtrusive cookies to store information on your computer, these are in place to ensure that you receive the best possible experience when using the Bus & Coach Buyer website.