Stagecoach takes on 2,300 new drivers amid 'modal shift from car to bus'

Stagecoach, the Scottish transport giant, said the challenging economic backdrop was supporting a “modal shift away from car to bus” as it reported improving numbers and the recruitment of more than 2,000 drivers.

The Perth-based group, which earlier this year accepted a takeover offer from German asset manager DWS Infrastructure, said its expectations for full-year profit were broadly unchanged while acknowledging the challenges posed by current economic headwinds. Reporting first-half results, the firm said revenue rose to £669.6 million in the six months to October 29, up from £579.4m in the same period a year earlier. Adjusted pre-tax profit rose to £36.4m from £18.4m - a result that was in line with expectations.

As well as highlighting the shift away from car to bus as more people are squeezed by the cost-of-living crisis, bosses noted that the free travel scheme for under-22s was supporting strong growth in bus travel by young people in Scotland. Stagecoach said it was taking “active management of economic headwinds” to control costs, maintain sustainable bus networks and “help protect customers and employees from cost-of-living pressures”.

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The company is Britain's biggest bus and coach operator, employing some 23,000 people, and also runs the Supertram network in Sheffield. It said it had recruited and trained more than 2,300 new bus drivers in the half-year period, “to protect and improve the reliability of our services”.

Chief executive Martin Griffiths said: “We are pleased to report a positive set of results for the half-year as we move forward under new ownership. We have delivered increased revenue and profit, reflecting growth in our business and investment by the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments in bus networks. We have made further progress as we rebuild from the pandemic, manage the immediate-term macroeconomic headwinds, and position our business to maximise the opportunities for growth as we transition to a net zero future. At the same time, the current economic environment is helping to demonstrate the good value of our public transport services and encourage modal shift away from the car. We remain positive on the long-term outlook for the group, while mindful of the macro-economic challenges facing businesses across the country.”



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