UK new bus and coach registrations rose 15.8% in the first quarter of 2020, with demand rising to 1,403 units, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The growth comes off the back of a particularly weak first quarter in 2019, when registrations fell by almost a third (-32.8%).
The growth in the quarter could have been even stronger, with solid demand in the first two months, however, coronavirus lockdown measures introduced partway through March held back registrations in the month, up 3.5%, or only 23 units more than this time last year. Overall, quarterly growth was driven by minibus registrations, which were up 106.8% to 941 units, while the market for single-deck and double-deck buses was down -21.3% and -61.2% respectively.
Demand for buses and coaches fell significantly in Scotland, down -44.7% to 146 units, whereas England saw a boost of 29.3% to 1,146 vehicles, where the South East (which includes Greater London) remains the most popular region in the UK for bus and coach registrations, with 422 units registered, up 10.5% on last year.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,
The boost in bus and coach registrations at the start of the year was near erased by lockdown measures introduced in March. As we expect this trend to continue into the second quarter, manufacturers and the wider sector are rightly concerned with what happens next. Bus operators are working tirelessly to provide safe and essential transport services for those on the frontline of the pandemic, and this needs to continue as the nation starts to exit lockdown. To help safeguard the future of the industry, we need the funding promised earlier in the year to be made available now, and a clear and comprehensive plan for the sector that boosts operator confidence and thereby encourages fleet renewal.”