National Express set to use jobs retention bonuses to cut bus fares

National Express set to use jobs bonus to cut bus fares: Coaches only running a fifth full after lockdown slump

National Express plans to use £4million in job retention bonuses to slash ticket prices on its local bus services.

The firm hopes cutting fares will attract people back to using its buses in the West Midlands and Dundee.

A full service is running in the West Midlands, and routes are running at 90 per cent in Dundee, but its buses are around half-full.

Empty coaches: National Express hopes cutting fares will attract people back to using its buses, which are around half-full at the moment

The company is best known for its coaches in the UK, which will not be covered by the reduced fares. Its coaches are only about a fifth full at present.

The Government’s Job Retention Bonus pays £1,000 for each worker who is brought back from furlough and then employed until January.

This means National Express should be bringing around 4,000 people back from the scheme, which ends in October. 

Yesterday, the company admitted it has no idea when demand will return to pre-pandemic levels.

There was an 80 per cent slump in passenger numbers during lockdown and the company racked up costs of £63.5million during the six-month period, which included buying up protective equipment for staff and the impact of cancellations.

It swung to a total loss of £122million in the first six months of the year, which covers the entire period of lockdown in the UK, and revenues dropped 23 per cent to £1.billion.

It also operates in Germany, Spain and the US.

Shares sank 16.2 per cent, or 28.5p, to 147.5p on the profit drop, making it the biggest faller on the FTSE 250 index.

But bus companies in England have been given a boost with the Government agreeing to extend the Covid-19 aid indefinitely.