£90m drive to get more on buses

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STAGECOACH is to spend a record £90​m on new ​buses as part of a drive to get more people travelling by public transport.

The transport group, which runs bus​es and trams across Yorkshire, said revenues ​rose five per cent to £2.9​bn in the year to April 30, with pre-tax profits ​two per cent​ higher at £180.7​m. ​ ​

The improvement was driven by the group’s regional bus division, which carried more passengers and increased revenues compared with a year ear- lier. ​

Stagecoach’s chairman Sir Brian Souter said: “We have placed orders for over £90m of new greener buses for our regional bus services in England, Scotland and Wales for 2014/15, which is a sign of our confidence in our ability to continue to get people back on board the bus.”

The investment will introduce over 500 new greener buses in its regional operations.

The group has major city bus operations in Hull and Sheffield and it also operates the Supertram light rail network in Sheffield. Its low-cost coach service, megabus.com, operates a network of inter-city services across the UK and continental Europe.

​The company said that it has the lowest fares of any national bus operator and the highest customer satisfaction.

The latest independent research by Passenger Focus showed that 90 per cent of Stagecoach bus passengers are either very or fairly satisfied with their overall service, which is higher than the national average of 88 per cent.

Profits in its regional bus arm rose three per cent to £147.4m after revenues lifted 4.8 per cent to more than £1bn.

“The market conditions are positive with a combination of a rising population, increasing road congestion, the cost of running a car and widespread concern for the natural environment providing good potential for increased bus usage across the UK,” said Sir Brian.

Stagecoach said it will invest an initial £2m in a dozen new vehicles for its Stagecoach Yorkshire business.

He added that award-winning partnerships, such as that in Sheffield between South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and several operators, have helped improve bus reliability and punctuality, increase customer satisfaction and generate passenger volume growth.

​The group said that t​he Sheffield Supertram network is benefiting from a five-year multi-million pound track improvement project, which will safeguard the future of Sheffield’s tram network for the long-term.

​“​During the year, we launched a commercial smart ticketing scheme, which allows customers to store their tickets electronically on a StagecoachSmart travel card​,” said Sir Brian.

​“It means passengers can access integrated smart ticketing across Stagecoach’s bus and tram operations in Sheffield.”

Recent Passenger Focus research showed that 94​ per cent​ of Supertram customers in Sheffield were satisfied with their overall service, above the average score of 90 ​ per cent​ for the five UK light rail networks covered in the survey.​

Stagecoach’s other UK operations include rail networks South West Trains, Island Line and East Midlands Trains.

It has a 49 ​ per cent​ shareholding in Virgin Rail, which runs the West Coast franchise.

Profits in the rail arm ​fell 17 per cent to £34.3​m, but revenues ​rose​ 4.2​ per cent​ to £1.2bn as Stagecoach said the division performed in line with hopes.