Bus and coach market responding strongly

The UK new bus and coach market grew by 45.2% in the first quarter of 2022, with registrations increasing to 974, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The year-on-year increase compares with the weakest start to a year on record in 2021, when orders collapsed as a result of plummeting passenger numbers amidst pandemic-related restrictions.

With restrictions easing over the first three months of the year and bus journeys increasing, all vehicle types saw registrations rise, with single-deck buses experiencing the largest growth, up 131.9% year-on-year with some 211 units sold. Registrations of minibuses, which continue to dominate the market, rose 36.8%, with 647 joining UK roads, accounting for two thirds of all new registrations (66.4%).

However, the sector is still struggling with low demand given long-term declines in ridership levels, with 44.4% fewer buses and coaches registered in the first quarter than the pre-pandemic five-year average.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The return to growth of the bus and coach sector, which is critical for the UK’s Net Zero goals and levelling up agenda, is very welcome. It is, however, still some way short of a recovery. As declining passenger numbers continue to hamper the confidence of operators to renew their fleets, incentives are essential. Funding has slowly started to be released but government must act faster, using cash from the Bus Back Better Fund to support investment in vehicles and using its other funding streams to encourage infrastructural expansion, both of which are needed to deliver the rapid transition to net zero transport everyone demands.”