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Coachways vision

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Coachways vision study took place during 2010 to understand how the motorway and trunk road network in England/Wales and Scotland could be used to provide an affordable effective inter-urban public transport system using coachway corridors and coachway interchanges. Coachway interchanges would be located close on the trunk road network to avoid coaches having to enter intermediate towns and rely on local transport services to complete individual passenger trips.

Such a system could attract patronage from both existing rail and car users and thereby and take pressure off both the motorway and rail networks whilst also reducing carbon emissions. It could be developed in stages with associated costs and timescales considerably lower than those associated with the widening of motorways or the construction of high speed railway lines.



The express coach appears has been largely ignored by policymakers for the past 25 years even though it has the potential to provide an energy efficient, deliverable and attractive alternative to car and rail travel with far lower carbon emissions. This project aims to develop detailed proposals for how to develop strategic coach infrastructure so that the vehicle can play a larger part in UK inter-urban transport. These proposals will include recommendations for new Coachway interchanges at defined locations, new routes and related interventions in legislation and policy.


The following benefits have been identified:-

Carbon savings: The Oxford to London coach route achieves 446 'seat miles per gallon' and 16 'grams CO2 per seat km'.[1] (a seat km being maximum passenger km based on a full vehicle); increased use of yield management fares will result in higher occupancy levels which may approach the high levels enjoyed by the low cost airlines. This is considerably lower than the average 41g per passenger km achieved by current rail systems, 88g per passenger km for high speed rail and 106 grams per passenger km for private cars.[2]

Comprehensiveness: It is feasible for coaches to serve all the main trunk road routes which are developed to serve the most popular routes - hence a strategic coach network serves the same transport corridors as private cars. This can only be achieved with conventional rail or high speed rail if there is a suitable railway line in place.

Comfort: Memories of coach travel for many will be of uncomfortable, cramped and dirty vehicles, possibly on school trips. Many current coaches by way of contrast now offer high levels of service, with much better seats, air conditioning, power sockets, wifi, toilets etc. A developed service would offer many journeys without the need to change vehicles.

Congestion: Coaches use existing infrastructure considerably more efficiently than private cars thereby reducing congestion every time someone switches mode.

Deliverability: A motorway based coach system is emerging naturally without great levels of government activity. Megabus carried 2.6m passengers in their first 18 months.[3] Receipts from coach travel have been growing significantly in recent years.

Fares: Fares for coach travel are already lower than for rail travel without any subsidy (coach operators receive no subsidy as does the rail sector of fuel duty rebate as provided for local buses).

Productivity: Many road schemes are justified on the basis of 'time saved'. Coaches with suitable seating, power sockets and wifi allow people to work more productively while on the journey as has been noted already for train travel.

Speed: A motorway based coach network would increase many coach journey times avoiding the need for vehicles to enter urban areas at intermediate locations along their routes - passengers rely on local transport for 'top and tail' journeys. Whilst this does add some complexity to the journey it avoids considerable delays at intermediate stops on the journey providing a net journey time benefit for most passengers.


Introductory articles
National and regional policy context

The project

Coachways vision was created by ITO World Ltd (alongside their involvement with Ideas in Transit) and the Centre for Transport & Society at the University of the West of England. This project builds on 'A motorway based coach system', published by transport economist Alan Storkey in 2006 who is also advising us on this project. The team consisted of Ben Clark, University of the West of England (UWE), Peter Miller, ITO World Ltd and others at ITO and at UWE. The project ran from February to October 2010. The project:-

  • Reviewed the existing coach network to identify the most effective and least effective services.
  • Reviewed UK coach strategy at national and regional levels, including interviews with appropriate policy leaders and service operators.
  • Identified potential new 'Coachway' interchanges close to urban areas and the trunk road network where people can transfer to local transport.
  • Designed and created schedules for new coach services using these interchanges and publish the associated schedules in electronic form.
  • Bring the proposals to the attention of policy makers, other interest groups and the public.

See also

Wikipedia articles


  1. See wikipedia article for details
  2. Estimated Carbon Impact of a New North South Line Department for Transport
  3. goes upmarket with new luxury coaches for Scotland Megabus

External links

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