Registrations fall 1.6% in 2022
UK new bus and coach registrations fell by 1.6% in 2022 with 3,411 new single-deck, double-deck buses and minibuses joining Britain’s roads, according to figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
A particularly weak fourth quarter, which saw registrations decline 30.1%, offset growth recorded during the first nine months of the year, amid signs that ridership levels were beginning to recover. However, passenger numbers remain below pre-pandemic 2019 levels as operators continue to face significant financial constraints on fleet renewal.
The overall decline in 2022 was driven by minibuses weighing up to six tonnes and with 17 seats, the largest segment by volume, which fell 13.2% to 2,010 units. Single-deck bus registrations, however, grew by 40.6% to 1,056 units, while double-deck deliveries declined by 14.0%, representing 345 units.
SMMT’s report on the Q4 registrations said: “As single- and double-deck buses are leading the way in the rollout of affordable, zero-emission mass mobility, it is crucial that funding is delivered to all regions of the UK to boost the sector’s ability to renew fleets with the latest technology.”
The SMMT claims that as Britain’s bus fleet is essential to delivering Net Zero and providing vital mobility to people across the country, six successive years of decline mean action is needed urgently to restore confidence. The sector is relatively advanced in its green transition, according to the Society, with the proportion of the bus parc that is zero emission already on par with cars at the end of 2021. Rollout has been accelerated by the Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme, with further deliveries expected this year. Progress, however, will depend on a smooth and timely funding process, according to the SMMT.
It claims government initiatives such as the Bus Fare Cap Grant can raise operator confidence in passenger numbers but longer-term commitments to increase ridership following the pandemic are needed to create the right conditions for operators to invest. In doing so, it believes the sector can deliver affordable, zero-emission mass mobility, serving communities across the UK and protecting jobs and livelihoods in the process.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “The bus and coach market is essential to our net zero targets and, as ridership levels begin to show signs of recovery, a long-term, sustainable commitment to green investment is needed. In particular, ZEBRA funding must be delivered more swiftly, ensuring rollout of the latest, zero emission buses and coaches to regions across the UK, improving air quality and the passenger experience.”
- See B&CB’s exclusive Q&A session with SMMT on how 2023 might play out in the industry here.