Sales still subdued despite double-digit growth

The UK new bus and coach market grew by 231.1% in the second quarter after a near standstill in 2020.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) found that although all vehicle types saw double- and even triple-digit increases on 2020, the market remains subdued with the sector still struggling with long-term declining passenger numbers.

Year to date, and despite the catastrophe that was 2020, registrations for 2021 so far are still down 3.6%, with 1,668 new buses and coaches registered in the first six months.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Though any improvement on last year’s decimated figures is welcome, the growth in quarter two still belies a first half market which is down on a Covid-riven 2020.

“The bus and coach sector is still experiencing the effects of the pandemic with passenger numbers remaining low, undermining operator willingness to place new orders. The government’s ‘Bus Back Better’ strategy, published in March, is yet to deliver the promised investment which is essential to the future of this sector.

“Almost two years ago the government pledged to invest in 4,000 new zero emission buses. Manufacturers are ready, willing and able to build these here in the UK, but need to see that funding flow through to operators, orders placed and a return to the ridership numbers seen prior to the pandemic.”