With just 853 vehicles registered in the third quarter of 2021, this is a decline of 19.8% and a drop of 500 units (37%) on 2019 levels. Double-deckers, in particular, have fallen greatly as low passenger numbers continue to reduce the demand within the industry, in figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders (SMMT).
UK New Bus and Coach Market Continues to Fall Further Than 2020 Levels in ´Deeply Disappointing Decline´
Starting with double-decker buses, the drop is stark. With just 76 registrations in the third quarter, this is a 63.6% drop, although the year-to-date figure is much better, with 313 overall registrations representing just a 23.3% drop.
In the only positive, single-deck buses saw a rise of 5.2% compared to last year’s third quarter, although the year-to-date figures show a 10.9% drop.
In total, for the year-to-date, the bus and coach market fell 10.2% for the first three quarters, with 2,584 vehicles registered, which is 293 down from last year. Compared to the pre-pandemic average, there are 1,437 units fewer, confirming that the market has continued to fall in power and has halved in just two years.
In terms of country distribution for the three quarters, Wales saw a 47.8% drop, while England saw a 15.5% drop. Scotland saw a 24% increase, and Northern Ireland bucked the trend with a close to 300% increase.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said of the figures: The decline in bus and coach figures during the third quarter of the year is incredibly disappointing, especially when viewed against the same period in 2020 when the country was still struggling to recover from the effects of pandemic-induced lockdowns. Whilst lockdowns have ended, and workers have begun returning to the office as the economy continues to be fully open, the sector is still struggling, with dwindling passenger numbers leading to operators hesitant to place new orders. This sector also continues to wait for the promised investment from the government for new zero-emission buses to flow through, with such funding necessary to stimulate confidence and deliver environmental goals.
Focusing on Hawes comment on the Government's plan to invest in the industry, the proposed push towards zero-emission buses could well galvanise the beleaguered industry going forward.