UK new bus and coach registrations did very well to rise by 15.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, with demand rising to 1,403 units, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Northern Ireland, however was down 18.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year. The overall growth figure also comes off the back of a particularly weak first quarter in 2019, when registrations fell by almost a third (-32.8%).
The March lockdown measures halted new orders. So 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 per cent, or only 23 units more than this time last year.
Overall, quarterly growth was driven by minibus registrations, which were up 106.8 per cent to 941 units, while the market for single-deck and double-deck buses was down -21.3 per cent and -61.2 per cent respectively.
Demand for buses and coaches fell significantly in Northern Ireland, down 18.8 per cent in Q1, and even and a great decrease was seen in Scotland, down -44.7 per cent to 146 units. However, England saw a boost of 29.3 per cent 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 per cent 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.