The Eurolines Organisation is urging key transport leaders across Europe to support the long distance coach network and the need for greater investment in infrastructure and passenger facilities.
At an event hosted by Michael Cashman MEP in the European Parliament, John Gilbert, President of Eurolines, outlined the vital role of coach travel across Europe and the often unnecessary barriers operators and passengers face in many locations.
Eurolines is calling for policy-makers to recognize the role and contribution of coaches to safe, environmentally friendly and affordable travel.
John Gilbert, President of the Eurolines Organisation, said:
Coach plays a vital, but largely unrecognised role in keeping Europe moving. Passengers choose coach because it's an affordable, convenient way to travel cross border but there's a lot that public authorities could to make the passenger experience better.
Empowering travellers to make intermodal journeys is a key objective for the European Commission, but at present coaches are denied access to a number of key terminals across Europe - making it difficult for passengers to switch between train, coach and plane. We would welcome increased support for coach across Europe and a commitment to investing in passenger facilities to ensure coach travellers enjoy the same high standards as train and air passengers.
Eurolines also highlighted the trend towards increased border checks for international coach services - even within Schengen. This can result in cumbersome delays for passengers and acts as a major deterrent for choosing coach in the future.
Michael Cashman MEP, said:
I'm pleased to see that Eurolines has taken this initiative to campaign for better quality infrastructure for long distance coach passengers. If we are serious about getting people out their cars and into low cost, green public transport, then cities across Europe need to invest in the infrastructure that will help passengers access the services they need.
The event was attended by a number of transport leaders including Keir Fitch from the Cabinet of Commissioner Kallas, Oleg Kamberski from IRU and Andrew Cleaves, Managing Director of National Express.
Eurolines announced plans to launch a series of awards in 2012 for the best equipped terminals and the most improved stations to help raise awareness of the role of coach travel.
Mr. Gilbert added:
We're focused on providing the highest standard of coach travel with free wifi and low prices, but we can't control the experience before and after the journey. Next year we're introducing a series of awards to recognise Europe's most coach friendly towns and cities.
Europe's largest scheduled coach operator is also supporting an initiative by the Smart Move campaign calling for an EU Transport Policy to 2050 on buses, coaches and taxis. They want to establish a group of industry experts and politicians to help deliver a strategy which doubles coach passenger numbers over the next 15 years.