Bus demand drives Stagecoach profit

Stagecoach highlighted its drive to get more people on buses today after committing a record �90 million on new vehicles
Stagecoach highlighted its drive to get more people on buses today after committing a record �90 million on new vehicles
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STAGECOACH highlighted its drive to get more people on buses today after committing a record £90m on new vehicles amid a year of higher profits.

The transport group, which runs bus and rail services in the UK and has operations in North America, said revenues were up 4.5 per cent to £2.9bn in the year to April 30, with pre-tax profits two per cent higher at £180.7m.

The improvement was driven by its regional bus division, which carried more passengers and grew revenues compared with a year earlier.

Around 2.8 million passenger journeys are currently made on Stagecoach buses each day, including in Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull and Manchester.

It placed orders worth more than £90m on new greener buses for 2014/15, with the record figure highlighting its confidence in “continuing to get people out of their cars and back on board the bus”.

It added: “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.”

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

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

Stagecoach’s other UK operations include budget coach service megabus and the 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.

In North America, Stagecoach operates around 2,400 buses and coaches.

Stagecoach recently failed to secure the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern rail franchise, but this was offset by the award of a new West Coast franchise until 2017.

The company said positive discussions were continuing with the Department for Transport with a view to agreeing franchise extensions or direct awards at South West Trains and East Midlands Trains.

Profits in the rail arm were down 17% to £34.3 million, but revenues lifted 4.2 per cent to £1.2bn as Stagecoach said the division performed in line with hopes.

South West Trains and East Midlands Trains continue to receive revenue support from the Government, a mechanism which partly offsets the extent to which revenues falls short of forecasts at the time of the franchise award.