The transport watchdog has called for action to address the stigma around coach travel and persuade more air travellers to use coaches to get to the airport.
Transport Focus said its research has identified changes that could radically improve the public perception of coach travel and increase the use of this option.
Transport Focus has put forward a five-point plan:
- Government, industry and trade bodies must do more to develop a strategy which promotes coach travel as a value for money, sustainable option to other forms of long-distance travel
- The coach industry to work together to attract new passengers to the mode and challenge the existing stigma
- Better use of technology to improve visibility of coach journey planning and information
- Airports and airlines to work more closely with the coach operators to promote coach travel to and from airports
- The coach industry to publish performance data to help inform better consumer choice.
Coaches at Heathrow Airport
The research found that a third of people believe coaches are often uncomfortable, dirty or old and more than half think they are infrequent and often delayed by traffic or roadworks. Only 4% of people made their last journey to an airport by coach.
Speaking at a summit at Heathrow airport on how to improve coach travel, David Sidebottom, director at Transport Focus, said: ‘It’s time to break the stigma around coach travel and to promote this travel option as the savvy consumer choice. Despite strong levels of passenger satisfaction among coach travellers, awareness of this option as a cost effective and reliable way to travel remains desperately low.
‘Encouraging people to use coach to reach airports presents a major challenge to the transport sector, so it’s good to see government and the transport industry coming together to explore how the coach passenger experience can be improved so that more customers can discover the benefits of coach travel.'
Heathrow has said that its planned new runway will not result in any additional airport-related road traffic and has set a target that at least 50% of passengers will use public transport by 2030.
The airport’s surface access director, Tony Caccavone, said: ‘It is crucial we find new ways of getting our passengers to use more sustainable modes of transport, and coach travel – an often overlooked but convenient and comfortable option – is an essential part of that.
'The research is the first of many steps we will take as we look to change the way passengers and colleagues travel to and from Heathrow and do our part to control emissions.’