Stagecoach stays steady as it eyes post-pandemic recovery

Stagecoach bus
Stagecoach bus (PA Archive)
11:09am, Fri 26 Mar 2021
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Stagecoach kept its outlook changed for the current financial year as it continued to benefit from Government support to help bus companies through the Covid-19 crisis.

The business said that with restrictions still in place it is difficult to tell when it will see profitability recover. But it foresaw “good long-term prospects” nonetheless.

Part of this could come from potential Government support into the future after ministers recently announced a national bus strategy for England.

It will see the Government increasing patronage for buses and provide funding.

The UK Government’s recently announced National Bus Strategy for England shows a commitment to increasing bus patronage with significant funding to support that.

We remain confident that there is a strong and positive future for public transport as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic

In Scotland, Stagecoach recently tapped into the Scottish Government’s scheme to put ultra-low emission buses on the roads.

It won £9 million of funding from the scheme and will invest around £12 million itself, to buy around 46 zero-emission buses and install the infrastructure needed to run them.

The investment “underlines our confidence in the positive long-term outlook for buses in the UK”, Stagecoach said.

Government support has also been key to Stagecoach and other public transport companies during a time when travel dried up because of national lockdowns.

The company’s regional buses are currently carrying 46% of their pre-pandemic passenger numbers, with the company’s vehicles covering 86% of the miles they did in 2019.

“Targeted Government support schemes remain in place for the foreseeable future. We would not expect this support to end until social distancing requirements have been dropped,” said Gerald Khoo, an analyst at Liberum.

In London, full service has been restored, Stagecoach said.

Chief executive Martin Griffiths said: “We remain confident that there is a strong and positive future for public transport as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Government commitments in the recently-published national bus strategy provide a huge opportunity to fundamentally transform mobility in our communities, moving away from towns and cities built around cars to more vibrant and prosperous places well-connected by easy-to-use sustainable public transport and active travel.”

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