The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) – the UK trade association for the coach sector – is closely monitoring the arrangements in place at the Port of Dover should coaches be once again unfairly penalised during the peak bank holiday and half term getaways on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 May.
The Port of Dover has assured CPT there will be no repeat of the scenes at Easter, when drivers and their coaches full of holidaymakers and school children, were left stranded with no information or welfare facilities. CPT understands there will be a minimum of five French border control staff available at any time to carry out coach passenger passport checks. This may be extended to seven, provided they complete the construction of a new shelter for the French officials.
A dedicated parking and ferry check-in muster point, which includes adequate welfare facilities, will also be provided for coaches at the Boatyard during the bank holiday peak periods. This coach parking space will, if necessary, be added to using the Cruise terminal area.
Graham Vidler, CEO of the CPT said:
“Coach travel is one of the greenest and most sustainable forms of transporting people in large numbers. We are pleased the Port of Dover has recognised this by responding to CPT’s calls for a coach contingency plan during peak getaway periods, so all modes of transport can pass freely through this important gateway.
“On behalf of our coach operator members, we will be keeping a watchful eye on how vehicles are processed over the bank holiday weekend, ready to intervene and ensure action in case of difficulties.”
CPT understands coaches must not arrive at the Port more than three hours before their sailing time. On arrival, drivers will be issued with a slot number which will be called out to let them know when to board the ferries.
To ensure the continental European coach market can continue to thrive, CPT is encouraged that the Port of Dover is addressing two thirds of the CPT’s three-point plan of more border control staff to speed up passport checks and extra coach priority lanes. CPT’s third call for the greater use of technology has yet to be completed. Irish and P&O Ferries have yet to follow DFDS’ example of using passenger check-in apps to speed up the boarding of passengers and vehicles. The CPT has also been working closely with officials in the Department of Transport to ensure all parties continue to work together collaboratively.
Coach is already the greenest way of travelling around the country – one vehicle can take up to 50 cars off the road, with each trip emitting CO2 1.5 times less than rail, five times lower than planes and six times lower than a car.