As further restrictions are imposed across different parts of the UK, the steady upward trend in public transport use looks set to flatten or decline

 
Stagecoach revealed that commercial revenues from its bus operations outside London had returned to 50-60% pre-Covid levels

 
Public transport operators are already seeing the steady recovery of passenger volumes halted by the introduction of new lockdown measures in different parts of the UK, with growth in some areas being thrust into reverse.

A trading statement issued last week by Britain’s biggest bus operator, Stagecoach, revealed that commercial revenues from its bus operations outside London had returned to 50-60% pre-Covid levels. However, it warned: “The recent government announcements to impose further restrictions may discourage public transport use in the short-term.”

Scotland offers an insight into what might soon be coming to other parts of the UK. The Scottish Government toughened coronavirus restrictions further on October 8 to counter a second wave of the virus. People in the central belt are again being asked to avoid public transport unless it is absolutely necessary – and the impact is already being felt.

I hope they are going to do the same thing in reverse when they’re trying to encourage people back onto public transport

Bus operators across Scotland are now reporting that growth has tailed off, even outside of the central belt. Others, particularly around Glasgow, are now seeing passenger numbers decline.

Transport Scotland had been unable to provide evidence of the level of risk posed by using public transport. One bus industry representative told Passenger Transport that operators fear that the renewed ‘avoid public transport’ message will
“live long in the memory”.

“I hope they are going to do the same thing in reverse when they’re trying to encourage people back onto public transport,” he said.

 
This story appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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