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Virus hits work by transport tech firms


18 April 2020

Transport technology firms have reported a fall in business because of Covid-19.

ITS (UK) surveyed its members on behalf of the DfT, which is gauging the transport sector’s challenges. Three-quarters of respondents had lost some business, with work put on hold and contract awards deferred. A third have furloughed staff or cut pay. A tenth were “very worried” about the future, but more than half were confident their business would return to normal.

ITS (UK) held a webinar to discuss Covid-19’s impact. Peter Eccleson, owner of Smart Video and Sensing, which supplies detection and sensing solutions to the transportation and security sectors, said all his staff had been furloughed. “All the work that we had in the pipeline, which is primarily around installation work, has been put on hold. From a sales perspective, we were constantly visiting local authorities and government bodies, we can’t do that either. So that’s meant that basically the business has ground to a halt.”

While welcoming the Government’s furlough scheme, other support was not turning out to be useful, he said. “The banks are saying you’re eligible for the business interruption loan scheme as long as you can prove to us that your business is viable in four months’ time when you’ve had no revenue. Well, that’s the reason we’re looking for the loan! It's like a catch-22 scenario.” 

John Nightingale, a director of traffic signal consultancy JCT, said his company had turned to offering training courses online. “The bookings are not massive at the moment, but I think people are still trying to find their feet working from home.”  

Krishna Desai, global marketing manager at Cubic Transportation Systems, said: “I think the way to stay relevant no matter what the size of your business is to use your voice through social media. Let your customers know that you’re thinking of them. Lead with empathy. Nobody’s looking for a sales pitch at the minute, nobody wants to be sold to.”

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