Stagecoach PLC expects long term changes in bus transport from coronavirus

Martin Griffiths, chief executive, said it was a “creditable set of financial results”

Stagecoach PLC (), the buses operator, said it does not see passenger numbers returning to pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) levels for years with some permanent changes in travel patterns arising from the pandemic.

People working from home, online shopping, telemedicine and home education will all have a long-term impact, the firm said, adding that it is further reviewing its cost base to reduce overheads.   

Profits in the year to May 2, 2020, fell to £40.6mln from £101.2mln a year earlier on revenues of £1.42bn compared to £1.88bn. The results were hit by the end of the company’s rail operations in the UK as well as the impact of coronavirus.

Buses were deemed an essential service and have operated throughout the lockdown at reduced levels. Stagecoach said that it is now back up to 80% of the pre-lockdown mileage but physical distancing requirements are leading to capacity constraints on buses.

Government advice is also influencing public transport use, it said. The government is making payments to bus operators for the increased level of services and Stagecoach expects the current arrangements to continue until at least October 14, 2020, in England and August 17, 2020, in Scotland.

“Management action and the continuing support of government should ensure we remain EBITDA positive and poised to benefit from any new opportunities,” the firm in its results statement.

Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach’s chief executive, added that it was a “creditable set of financial results in what has been one of the most challenging and sobering periods for citizens, communities and economies across the globe in living memory.

“Supportive short-term actions by government and our local authority partners have helped protect public transport networks, which are critical to the country. We have also been encouraged by the good momentum created by the positive direction of government bus policy and investment,” he added.

Read MoreStagecoach PLC expects long term changes in bus transport from coronavirus

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