Some Transdev routes exceeding 2019 patronage figures

Transdev’s ‘Hotline’ has reported patronage better than 2019

New figures from the Department for Transport suggest public transport patronage is slowly recovering from Covid-19 in Great Britain, but patronage at weekends is exceeding that of weekdays in many cases.

The latest daily figures from late April suggest rail patronage over the long Easter weekend was between around 84% of that experienced in early March 2020 before the first Covid-19 national lockdown. More recently the figures reported are routinely in the mid to late-seventies.

London Underground has also reported patronage of around 65% on weekdays, but it is far higher at weekends with figures in the mid to late-eighties.

Regional bus services outside London also follow this trend and are now regularly reporting patronage in the high eighties at weekends, up from figures in the early seventies on weekdays. This is also true in London where patronage is generally around the 70% on weekdays but at the mid to late 80% mark at weekends.

Patronage on the Merseyrail network is around 90% of pre-pandemic levels with a 15-minute service due to return this month

In Merseyside the transport network there appears to be bouncing back, according to Merseytravel. It revealed last week that patronage on the Merseyrail network is around 90% of pre-pandemic levels with a 15-minute service due to return this month. There is also good news on the region’s bus network, where the number of journeys has neared 90% of pre-Covid levels on some days.

Meanwhile, Alex Hornby, chief executive of Harrogate-based bus operator Transdev Blazefield provided Passenger Transport with a comprehensive picture of how his business is recovering.

He revealed overall passenger recovery has reached 94%, but this figure was higher on some routes that had benefitted from recent investment and relaunch.
In particular, the ‘Hotline’ interurban service between Preston and Burnley has reported 101% of 2019’s patronage figures in recent weeks, although it has been routinely over 95% since February. The ‘Witchway’ service between Burnley and Manchester has patronage of 87% and the ‘Aireline’ between Leeds and Keighley 99%.

Other high performing services reported by Hornby are the ‘Dalesway’ (Skipton-Keighley) – 97%; and two routes acquired with the recent purchase of Arriva’s Yorkshire Tiger business. These are ‘Denby Darts’ (Huddersfield to Denby Dale) – 95%; and ‘Holmfirth Explorer’ (Wakefield to Holmfirth) 85%.

Other figures included ‘Coastliner’ from Leeds to the Yorkshire coast at 89% and Route 72 between Skipton and Grassington at 109%, perhaps influenced by the revived All Creatures Great and Small TV series which is filmed in the village of Grassington. .

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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