NAT Group says the need for social distancing is making things ‘very difficult financially’


Welsh bus and coach operator NAT Group has warned of the huge financial pressures that the sector is facing in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The move comes as the South Wales operator and ComfortDelGro subsidiary said it is ready for an increase in passenger numbers as and when lockdown measures are reduced and people begin to return to work.

The company says its scheduled buys services are currently carrying around 9% of previous passenger volumes. It reports seeing an extremely sharp drop in passenger numbers in late March, with passenger numbers remaining largely flat thereafter, with a slight increase starting around two weeks ago.

In order to ensure social distancing, the company has limited capacity on vehicles and says it is considering a number of further measures including increased signage and physical seat restrictions.

In addition to the temporary protective driver screens that were fitted by the company some weeks ago, the company is also now considering specifying adjustable protective screens on any new vehicles purchased.

“The safety of our customers and staff will always be our priority and we are complying with all requirements the government has asked of us, however, it has been incredibly hard to get hold of PPE, with many bulk orders understandably being diverted to the NHS,” said NAT Group managing director Adam Keen.

“Social distancing will mean much lower passenger numbers and a lightly loaded bus is generally loss-making for the company. Putting more buses on to cope with additional passenger numbers is going to be very difficult financially.

“We, and other operators, are now in regular discussions with Welsh Government officials to try and secure stimulus funding to support us through this very difficult period of time. While we have been able to continue to provide our essential service up to now, but the most difficult period is still to come, and funding for the recovery will be crucial.”

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