“We believe public transport is crucial to the ongoing recovery of Dundee.”
Passenger levels for Xplore Dundee are now at 61% of pre-pandemic levels, parent company National Express reported today.
The bus group was one of the highest risers on the FTSE 250 as it surprised investors by revealing it had performed better than expected in recent months, particularly in its regional operations.
It said its Dundee business was now running 92% of buses while its West Midlands routes are running 103% of last year’s service and carrying 58% of the passengers.
National Express shares rose 12% to close at 140p on Thursday, the market’s second highest riser behind Pets at Home.
Xplore Dundee managing director Christine McGlasson said: “I’m glad that many people are returning to our services and finding it a safe and reliable way to travel around Dundee.
“We believe public transport is crucial to the ongoing recovery of Dundee and its economy as well as helping to maintain the improved air quality we’re experiencing as a result of the lower volume of traffic.
“The challenge we’re currently facing is to balance service levels with passenger demand, which is still fluctuating and unpredictable, however it’s clear that people rely on us for their essential journeys and we intend to keep Dundee moving throughout this pandemic and beyond.”
National Express had originally expected revenue to reach around 50% of pre-Covid levels until the end of August, but it has fared better, the company said.
“We traded slightly above our previously guided base case as we closely manage customer relationships, contract details and service requirements throughout the pandemic,” it said in a statement.
Its business that operates in Spain, Morocco and Switzerland reached 66% of last year’s revenues, while winning a 185 million euro (£170 million) seven-year contract to run buses in Lisbon, Portugal.
In North America, 65% of its school bus routes are operating services, and its transit and shuttle businesses are collecting between 65% and 80% of pre-Covid revenue.
Chief executive Chris Davies said: “We are grateful to our customers and the public authorities who have recognised the essential role our services play in maintaining the ability of people to get to work and to keep the economy functioning, even during such challenging times.
“We are encouraged to see continued passenger growth across the group as our services provide safe and reliable services to those choosing to travel.
“We remain resolutely optimistic about the longer term opportunities for the group.”