Thursday 23 July 2020

Honk for Hope Protest Convoy

Funding has been put in place to assist the running of bus and rail operations which have been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but the coach industry has been totally ignored. Sadly more operators will go bust if financial help is not forthcoming.

'Honk for Hope' has been created to draw attention to the plight of UK operators.

On Monday 20th July the Honk For Hope convoy took place in London. It’s estimated that up to 500 coaches took part from ALL corners of the UK except N Ireland. 

Coaches met at service areas around the M25 then headed towards Heston on the M4 for 9.45am. From here the convoy headed into London via A4, Earls Court, Chelsea Embankment to Parliament Square. 
Then via Embankment to Tower Hill then return as outward.

At Parliament Square air horns were sounded. The noise was so much at one point that the Police threatened to fine the drivers.
Whilst there was some media coverage the national media failed to recognise this event.  Maybe if monuments had been defaced or disturbances created that would have been different. 

The organiser of the protest was Jenna Rush from North East Coach Travel of Seaton Burn. Their is much coverage on the H F H site with plenty of video and pictures.
Jenna commented “We know that we will not move again until next year, and we cannot meet our finance payments for the rest of the year without some form of government support.

“I have got a coach now where I still owe £160,000 finance, but because of Covid the coach has depreciated to around £100,000.

“So if that (loan) company does not give me any help, and I can’t pay, they will repossess and take it away.

“But there will still be a shortfall of £60,000.

“Because I have a personal guarantee, they’ll then come to me and possibly take my home.

“Every operator is in the position, it’s not just the risk of losing the business, it’s the risk of losing everything.”

The coach industry is largely ignored and it rarely appreciated what this sector of the transport industry achieves. As well as serving the tourist industry, coaches provide home to school services as well as Monday to Friday commuter services in and out of London and other major cities.
Scheduled coach services such as Megabus and National Express are responsible for moving thousands of passengers between numerous locations, including long distance UK cross border trips.
This industry needs support for the major players as well as the numerous small operators who are contracted to run services.