Bus and coach demand falls in Q3

754 new buses and coaches join UK roads in Q3, down -11.6% year on year and marking 2022’s first quarter of decline.

Britain’s new bus and coach market fell -11.6% year on year to 754 units in the third quarter of 2022, according to figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The performance is some -43.7% below an already weak Q3 2019,1 primarily due to a long-term decline in passenger numbers yet to recover from the pandemic.

Demand for single-deck buses and double deckers, which are at the forefront of urban zero emission mobility in Britain, increased by 13.2% and 36.8% respectively. However, this was not able to offeset a -26.9% decline in newly registered minibuses, the largest segment by volume.

In the year to date, the UK bus and coach market is 8.1% above the first nine months of 2021, at 2,794 units.1 This is thanks to a recovery in Q1 and strong demand for single-deck registrations, up by 56.4% so far this year, however, deliveries of minibuses remain down -2.8% and double deckers by -9.9%. Further, despite this year’s overall growth, registrations remain -29.9% lower than in the same period in 20193 pre-pandemic, when the sector was already subject to long-term decline in passenger levels.

Growth in single and double deck buses and coaches is a positive, with bus orders via government’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) fund now able to be placed in some areas and expected to reach the road in 2023. Such fiscal support is essential to ensuring fleet renewal and services remain on course across Britain amid extremely challenging operating conditions, however, rollout must be accelerated to reach all regions of the UK in time for the sector to deliver on its green goals.

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