Memorandum submitted by the Confederation
of Passenger Transport
The bus and coach industry contributes significantly
to Britain's competitiveness. To enable the industry to fulfil
its key role providing inexpensive and comprehensive public transport,
CPT would like to see:
the Fuel Duty Rebate for local buses
increased from 75 per cent to 100 per cent;
the 75 per cent rebate extended to
coach services or a general reduction in diesel duties.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK
(CPT) is the trade association for bus, coach and light rail operators.
Our membership ranges from nationally-known transport groups to
small coach operators. We present the views of the industry to
government and the media. We also provide a forum to share information
nationally and regionally and deliver a number of quality services
to our members.
The bus and coach industry is important to the
UK economy. It provides 70 per cent of all public transport journeys,
directly employs over 150,000 people and has an annual turnover
of £4.5 billion. Coach based tourism is worth £2 billion
annually to the UK economy. The industry's contribution to reducing
congestion is immeasurable.
Through a combination of the operators' efficiency
and commercial acumen, and with comparatively little public subsidy,
Britain enjoys a denser and more frequent network of public bus
and coach services than most European countries. We believe that
UK competitiveness is enhanced by this. Well-planned bus services
move more people per litre of fuel than cars ever can. Fuel which
is expensive to all users should, therefore, work to the advantage
of the bus and coach industry.
However, when competing with the car, buses
have an important additional cost to bear: the driver needs to
be paid. The total annual wage bill of the industry is over £2
billion. Fares have to cover these costs, as well as the cost
of fuel taxation and the fuel itself.
To be able to compete, bus and coach operators
need relief from fuel taxation. At present operators pay fuel
duty of over £300 million per annum, even after allowing
for the Fuel Duty Rebate. This is a tax on public transport, which
has increased steadily during the last decade. These tax levels
need to be reduced and the inconsistencies between the taxation
of bus and coach fuel need to be addressed.
The rest of this submission discusses measures
for buses and coaches in turn.
1. LOCAL BUS
Local buses account for 63 per cent of all public
transport journeys in GB. They are an efficient form of transport.
Official statistics show that at typical occupancy levels they
use less fuel per passenger kilometre than cars. They also use
less road space per passenger and therefore help reduce congestion,
which is so costly to British business.
The scale of the bus network is reflected in
the fact that a half-hourly service is within six-minutes walk
of two-thirds of the GB population. In the context of the EU,
the level of service provided (in terms of vehicle kilometres)
is second only to Italysixth after adjusting for population.
This is achieved despite having the second-lowest level of public
funding. Information from Jane's Urban Transport suggests that
the level of public funding for 15 comparable cities across the
EU is lowest in Ireland (Dublin), followed by the UK (Manchester).
In GB the main form of public support for operators
is the Fuel Duty Rebate (FDR). The FDR effectively reduces the
amount of fuel duty paid by 75 per cent, but operators still have
to pay 25 per cent of the duty, which costs them about £115
million per annum. This is a tax on public transport and makes
it more difficult for buses to compete with cars.
Figure 1 shows that before 1994 the rebate was
worth 100 per cent of the duty and no duty was paid. It was the
previous government's policy of freezing FDR between 1994 and
1997, while increasing duties, that led to the industry paying
substantial duty. The present government has increased the FDR
steadily since April 1998, but it still remains at 25 per cent
below the full duty rate.
Since February 1999 Figure 1 shows that the
industry has suffered from a 40 per cent increase in diesel prices,
due to the increase in world oil prices. During the decade as
a whole, diesel prices have increased by about 125 per cent, from
15p per litre to 34p, mainly due to the increase in duty paid
(from 0p to 12p).
Notes: The graph shows prices/duty rates for
April each year until 1997 and then for every month. All prices
are expressed in current terms and exclude VAT. The figures take
account of the switch from standard diesel to ultra low sulphur
diesel between 1997 and 1999. Source: ONS survey of retail pricesbulk
prices would generally be slightly lower.
Even these increases in prices understate the
increase in diesel costs because of a reduction in average fuel
efficiency during the decade, as a result of Government policies
relating to disabled access and emissions:
Disability Discrimination Act regulations
require that all new buses have low-floor accessthis reduces
fuel efficiency by about 5 per cent, according to a report by
ETSU published by DETR (Fuel Management Guide for the Bus and
progressively tighter emission regulations
for new vehicles have reduced fuel efficiency. Euro two engines
typically have 4 per cent to 6 per cent worse fuel efficiency
than pre-"Euro 0" (Directive 88/77/EEC) engines, according
to the same report.
Combining these factors, Table 1 shows that
the fuel efficiency of new single deck buses has deteriorated
by 13 per cent between 1990 and 2000 If this is added to the 127
per cent increase in diesel prices, the cost of diesel per mile
for new buses has increased by 155 per cent over the decade. This
represents an 88 per cent increase in real terms, allowing for
CHANGES IN FUEL EFFICIENCY AND DIESEL COSTS
FOR NEW BUSES
|Engine type||April 1990
|Miles per gallon||8.0
|Gallons per mile (1990 = 100)||100
|Diesel price per litre (pence) after FDR
|Diesel price (1990 = 100)||100
|Cost per mile (pence)||8.5
|Diesel cost per mile in current prices (1990 = 100)
The increase in diesel costs has been a key factor behind
the increase in bus fares during the decade. Between 1990 and
1999 local bus fares have increased by 24 per cent in real terms,
while motoring costs have risen by just 10 per cent.
Without some relief bus operators will be forced to increase
fares further and/or cut services. Over the year to July 2000
operators managed to keep fare increases at about 2 per cent above
RPI, despite a 22 per cent increase in diesel prices (allowing
for the FDR). However this is not sustainable, if diesel duties
and prices stay at or above current levels, operators will need
to increase fares much fasteror cut servicesto restore
In summary, the increase in diesel duties has damaged the
bus industry's competitiveness over the last decade. The main
way in which the industry could be assisted is:
Increasing the rate of FDR for local bus services
from 75 per cent to 100 per cent. We estimate that this would
cost about £115 million per annum. Raising the rebate to
100 per cent would return the industry to the situation before
This policy would result in lower fares and/or
higher service levels than would otherwise be the case. The increase
in FDR would be equivalent to about 4 per cent of passenger receipts
or a similar proportion of operating costs.
2. COACH SERVICES
Operators of coach services do not receive the FDR and pay
the full rate of duty. They have an important role to play in
the public transport system, but receive no help from the government
These services include long-distance "express"
scheduled coach services, contract school bus services, contract
works bus services, and tour, day excursion and private hire coach
services. Only "local bus" services currently receive
Express coach services are used disproportionately by poorer
people, but they receive no form of relief on fuel taxation, unlike
competing rail and air servicesrail pays only 6 per cent
duty and air pays no duty. They also receive no other form of
public subsidy, unlike rail.
The Government is keen to encourage children to travel to
school by public transport instead of by car, but tax policy does
not encourage this. School services, unless they are registered
as local services and used by the general public, have to pay
for fuel at the fully-taxed rate. When public-spirited parents
club together to organise a school coach run, operators find it
difficult to operate to a price that competes with taking the
pupils by car. Similarly the Government aims to promote green
commuting to work, but although some tax concessions have been
introduced these have not been extended to the fuel used by buses
or coaches laid on by employers.
Coach services are important to the tourism industry. A report
commissioned by CPT (The Role of the Coach in the Economy, David
Simmonds Consultancy) estimated that coach-based tourism is worth
over £2 billion to the UK economy and supports 55,000 jobs.
Of this total, tourists from overseas spend £400 million
pre annum and support 10,700 jobs.
Figure 2 shows that diesel prices for coach operators have
increased sharply since February 1999by 17p per litre (from
54p to 71p). This represents a 30 per cent increase in prices,
and follows several years of above-inflation fuel price rises.
Over the year to July 2000, prices increased by 13 per cent. The
increases since 1999 mainly reflect the increase in world oil
prices, although the duty has also increased over this period.
Notes: See Figure 1.
These price increases have put the coach industry under severe
financial pressure. Data from the Office for National Statistics
shows that coach hire charges increased by only 6 per cent during
the year to the first quarter of 2000. Clearly the industry has
been unable to pass on the extra diesel costs to customers, even
though fuel accounts for over 20 per cent of total operating costs.
Unless some relief is given coach operators will have to
increase their prices sharply and/or reduce their services, and
more operators will go out of business. The competitiveness of
the coach industry would be reduced and the extra costs would
be passed on to customers, including UK businesses and overseas
tourists. The main options for relief are:
(a) extending the Fuel Duty Rebate to coaches. CPT has
advocated this policy throughout the last decade. The cost of
applying FDR to coach (and non-local bus) services at the same
rate as for local buses, at 37p per litre or 75 per cent of the
full duty, would be about £150 million per annum. (This takes
account of the higher average fuel efficiency of coaches relative
to buses. The rebate would only apply to Public Service Vehicles).
The price of diesel for coach operators would be halved. The cost
of applying FDR to coaches at 100 per cent of the full rate would
be about £200 million per annum.
This policy would result in lower hire charges or fares and/or
higher service levels than would otherwise be the case. The FDR
at 100 per cent would be equivalent to about 15 per cent of total
(b) a general reduction in fuel duties. This would obviously
help coach operators, but would be much more expensive. Reducing
diesel duties by 4p per litre would cost about £750 million
per year. Equivalent reductions in petrol duties would cost even
more. (Another option would be to extend red diesel to coaches.)
23 October 2000