Bus and coach market delivers growth

Britain’s new bus, coach and minibus market grew by 5.9% in the second quarter of 2023 with 1,129 vehicles registered.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reported that the performance represents the first quarterly rise in demand since the second quarter of last year and the best second quarter volume since 2019.

Registrations remain some 21.2% below those in the second quarter of 2019, however, highlighting the scale of the challenge to get the UK’s bus, coach and minibus services back on the road to recovery.

The SMMT says that a long-term strategy is needed to boost operator confidence to invest in fleet renewal, particularly with electric and hydrogen models given the sector’s importance to UK decarbonisation. The Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) fund has provided grants to 17 regions for the latest, greenest vehicles, but a further 48 regions are yet to access the fund.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “A rise in bus and coach fleet renewal driven by demand for single and double deckers indicates that the sector is stabilising – but operators continue to face highly challenging conditions, hampering sustained growth. The industry needs a long-term government strategy to deliver growth and decarbonisation, boosting uptake and underpinned by a more streamlined ZEBRA funding process. With the right support, this critical sector can continue to deliver affordable, accessible and sustainable mass mobility across the UK, while driving improvements to air quality in our towns and cities.”