Bus and coach NI celebrates 20 years as driving force of the industry
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And members have acknowledged the vital role it has played in the huge growth of the sector including getting it back on the road after it was decimated by Covid-19.
Industry data has revealed that the local bus and coach industry carries 20 million passengers every year and directly employs 3,000 people contributing £60m per annum to the economy.
Caroline McComb, chairman of Bus and Coach Northern Ireland and owner of McComb’s Coach Travel, said: “In the last 20 years the bus and coach industry has seen huge changes. 20 years ago, we weren’t even viewed as an industry, female bus or coach drivers were like mythical creatures and electric vehicles were only a thing for futuristic films!
“Over the last two decades Bus and Coach NI has worked tirelessly to change this and in doing so, has transformed the industry. In this time, we have demonstrated the huge economic driver and fundamental role the industry plays, not only in transport provision, but through local and regional development, employment and tax generation. It is an industry that crosses over from passenger transport to sport, education, tourism, and culture and both the public and private sector operators truly are better connected.
“Bus & Coach NI has played a pivotal role in this growth. And when our industry was abandoned during the pandemic, the organisation was there, knocking down doors to the government to get us the funding support that we so desperately needed and deserved. It secured the future of our industry, ensuring that the most reputable operators have survived the pandemic. Thanks to Bus & Coach NI, we are now thriving and operating in NI’s booming travel, tourism and leisure industry.”
Karen Magill, chief executive of Bus & Coach NI, explained: “We are delighted to celebrate 20 years of Bus & Coach NI and recognise the work the organisation has done on behalf of our members and the transport industry and indeed, domestic and international passengers, communities, organisations and businesses across NI.
“It has not been easy, having started our journey with an industry made up of a fragmented and disparate group of private operators who thankfully had identified a desperate need for things to change. Looking at where we are today and the huge transformation it has undergone, it’s a very satisfying realisation that we were the catalyst for change.
“And whilst we have come a long way, we still have so much to do to improve NI’s transport system. Transport is facing many challenges and there are issues that need to be addressed to improve our infrastructure, sustainability, modal shift, climate change and the obvious concerns over the impact the introduction of an Electronic Travel Authorisation will have. However, as an industry, we are much better connected than we were 20 years ago and we are committed and ready to play our part. The private bus and coach industry has earned the right to take its place now.”