Go-Ahead has announced its pre-close trading update for the six months ending December 27, 2014, ahead of its half year results which will be released on February 19, 2015.
The operator expects revenue growth in its regional bus business to be 4% for the half year, largely driven by increased contract revenue, where associated journeys are not recorded. Commercial and concessionary passenger numbers remain broadly consistent, with continuing weakness in the north east economy and the impact of significant roadworks in Oxford.
Addressing the Tyne & Wear proposals for a Quality Contract Scheme, the operator said this remains an ongoing process and it continues to believe that a voluntary partnership agreement is a better outcome for passengers and taxpayers.
In London, revenue growth of around 3% continues to be impacted by the reallocation of bus service operators grant (BSOG) of 2.5%. While mileage in the six months is expected to be down 2.5%, full year mileage growth is expected to be broadly flat as mileage is expected to increase in the second half of the year with the introduction of known contract wins.
The group said it remains in a good financial position with strong cash generation and a robust balance sheet.
David Brown, Group Chief Executive of Go-Ahead, said: “Overall trading in the year to date has been robust, with a solid performance in our bus and rail operations. Our full year expectations for both divisions remain unchanged.
“We remain committed to improving the passenger experience and making it as easy as possible for people to use our services. Go-Ahead has the largest smartcard scheme outside of London and, in January 2015, will be introducing a multi-operator smartcard in the north east.
“In October, we announced a joint initiative with the UK’s other major bus operators to deliver multi-operator smart ticketing to millions of bus customers across England.
“In the last five years, we have grown our regional bus network, enabling 15% more journeys to be taken on our services. Over the same period, we have invested more than £170m in our regional bus services and achieved some of the highest levels of customer satisfaction in the industry, including our best ever score of 92% in the latest independent survey.
“Working collaboratively with industry partners and local authorities we always seek to deliver the best value for passengers, taxpayers and shareholders.”