Bus market suffering long Covid

The UK new bus and coach market declined by 16.8% in 2021, with registrations falling to just 3,467 vehicles.

According to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), a poor fourth quarter, when just 883 units were registered, rounded off the worst year since records began as ridership levels failed to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

Ongoing Covid restrictions and a subsequent 17% decline in ridership levels continued to dent demand for new buses and coaches, with all body types experiencing declines in 2021.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The pandemic has continued to undermine the bus and coach market, with the latest figures an alarm call. The sector, and the millions of people who depend on it for essential mobility, is at a critical juncture, as Covid 19 has led to declining ridership which, in turn, has damaged demand for new fleet investments.

“We need the Bus Back Better programme to release funds to support the sector and for that investment to be made urgently. If we are to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions whilst keeping society and the economy moving, operator confidence and fleet renewal are essential.”