Stagecoach sees more passengers get on board its buses but cost inflation drags

Stagecoach, the Scottish bus operator set to merge with National Express, has seen a recovery in demand since the easing of Covid restrictions in January.

In a trading update to investors, the firm also welcomed recent pledges of recovery funding for bus services from governments on both sides of the Border.

Perth-headquartered Stagecoach has grown to become one of the biggest operators of bus routes across the UK, having started out with a skeleton service in 1980.

Bosses said the group was on course to meet its trading expectations for the year ending April 30, with both its regional bus and London bus businesses performing broadly in line with expectations.

Perth-headquartered Stagecoach has grown over the past 40-odd years to become one of the biggest bus operators in the UK.

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The firm said: “We are pleased to see a recovery in demand since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in January. Prior to the recent period of poor weather, overall journeys for our regional business during the first half of February ranged between 70 per cent and 78 per cent of pre-Covid levels on a rolling seven-day average.

“Looking beyond April 2022, we expect further recovery in demand for our services, although we also see continuing forecasting uncertainty in relation to passenger demand, payments from government to support the continuation of regional bus services during that recovery phase, and cost inflation.”

Chief executive Martin Griffiths added: “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.”

In December, National Express said it had agreed an all-share takeover of Stagecoach.

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