A TYRONE coach hire company has warned that the severe impact of the coronavirus has brought their industry to the point of collapse.
Davison Coaches from Dungannon were among dozens of bus and coach firms which staged a convoy of protest to Stormont. They say their plight has been ‘forgotten’ and are urging the Executive to provide financial and other support before it’s too late.
Speaking to the TyroneHerald, Karen Davison said that over the past three months since the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions began, companies like theirs had been brought to the brink because of the near-complete fall-off in private hire.
“Our industry might not survive this, and the reality is that we are going to struggle with the implementation of social distancing on our buses,” she warned.
“It is vitally important that Stormont are aware that, in order to make our industry viable in the future, we need to be able to carry large numbers of people.
“We drove to Stormont with six dummies representing people on our 50 seater coach to show the maximum number permitted under current guidelines.
“With social distancing, it is very hard to know how long it will be before people are in a position to hire buses and coaches again.”
Although Davison Coaches has a contract with local factories, the firm’s last commercially-hired journey was in early March.
They have introduced a range of measures to accommodate workers, including reduced numbers, additional buses, hand santisers at the front of each bus, the wearing of masks and gloves by drivers, and posters explaining the social distancing regulations.
But Karen Davison says that even those measures are not sustainable in the long-term.
“There are no answers to our problems at the moment, except for coronavirus to disappear and no magic fixes,” she added.
“Many companies have been out of action since March and our future now is dependent on financial support from government to help businesses stay afloat until a vaccine or an effective treatment is found.”