The extent of variation in the rate of bus patronage recovery outside London has been exposed by data collated by the Ten Per Cent Club, a group of industry professionals.
Fare paying passenger numbers on commercial services operated by members of the Club had recovered to an average of 60% of pre-coronavirus COVID-19 levels at the end of September. The range of individual responses was between 46% and 74%.
Concessionary patronage on commercial services had recovered to an average of 45% of pre-pandemic levels. The range of responses in that category was even greater, extending from 18% to 76%.
Tendered services are seeing patronage recover more slowly than commercial routes. On average, 43% of fare paying passengers on tendered services have returned, alongside 34% of concessionary travellers.
On an overall depot-by-depot basis considering all passengers, the highest level of bus patronage recovery recorded by the survey is 62%. The lowest overall depot recovery rate is 38%.
The results underline the need for continued government financial support for the industry “now and in the months ahead,” says the Ten Per Cent Club. Adds Secretary Roger French: “The snapshot survey shows a significant variation across the country, reflecting different characteristics of each local area.
“It once again emphasises that the ‘one size fits all’ approach never applies to the local bus market. Managers who know their areas have to adapt to local circumstances. Our collective knowledge and ideas will be even more important in the challenging six months ahead.”