Stagecoach welcomes additional funding and issues trading update

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Stagecoach Group says that it is on course to meet its trading expectations for the year ending 30 April 2022, with its bus businesses performing broadly in line with expectations. The firm reported that the Omicron variant of Covid-19, and the related restrictions, did affect demand for bus and tram services for a period of time, but additional recovery grant funding from the Department for Transport helped offset the financial impact.

The Group welcomed the Department for Transport’s announcement that recovery funding will be available for bus and light rail services for a further six-month period. It also welcomed the Scottish Government’s recent announcement of a bus grant scheme for the period from 1 April 2022 to support bus service recovery. It said the additional funding amounts will enable the continuation of transport services as customer demand continues to recover, while also supporting the planning of future transport networks that take account of the emerging pattern of demand.

Looking beyond April 2022, the Group said it expects further recovery in demand for its services, although it also sees continuing uncertainty in relation to passenger demand, payments from Government to support the continuation of regional bus services during that recovery phase, and cost inflation.

Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach Chief Executive, said: “We are pleased at the continuing recovery in demand for public transport as the country looks to transition out of the pandemic, and we welcome the extension in Government funding. Ensuring bus and light rail networks have a solid base now will ensure they are sustainable for the long-term and have the capacity to grow as we work with Government and local transport authorities to attract people out of cars and onto greener public transport.

“We continue to see a positive long-term outlook for public transport, which is key to economic recovery, levelling up communities and helping secure the country’s net zero ambitions.”

Overall patronage for Stagecoach’s regional business during the first half of February ranged between 70% and 78% of pre-Covid-19 levels. RICHARD SHARMAN