National Express ‘will not buy another diesel bus in the UK’

National Express has announced that it will no longer buy diesel-fuelled buses in the UK while also announcing a revenue increase of more than £250m.

The Birmingham company, which also operates overseas, saw revenue rise 12% from £2.45bn in 2018 to £2.74bn, attributing the growth partly to the acquisition of Silicon Valley shuttle service WeDriveU.

Dean Finch, National Express Group chief executive, said: “National Express has again delivered a record set of results. Revenue and profit are up strongly and free cash performance has beaten our expectations. All businesses have delivered organic growth. I am particularly pleased with North America achieving a 10% margin and significantly increasing the number of customers rating their services five-star. The group is also carrying significantly more passengers.

“Major contracts were retained in North America and Spain. We became Morocco’s largest urban bus operator, with new contracts in Rabat and Casablanca more than tripling the size of our operations when fully mobilised. UK coach won its first overseas contract and West Midlands bus is adding routes and growing its accessible transport business.

“We combined organic growth in every division with continued diversification into complementary markets, such as our major WeDriveU acquisition which has grown revenue by over 30%. Each division has a strong pipeline of new acquisition and contract opportunities to target this year.”

Outlining its vision to become the UK’s “most sustainable bus and coach company”, National Express announced it will not buy another diesel bus for its UK operations; lead the transition to zero emission coaches with a target for the first electric coaches to be in service next year; and aims for its UK bus and UK coach fleets to be fully zero emission from 2030 and 2035 respectively.

Finch said: “As industry leaders we are delighted to make major pledges in the shift to zero emission vehicles. National Express will not buy another diesel bus in the UK and lead the transition to zero emission coaches. Our ambition is for our UK bus business to become zero emission by 2030 with UK coach by 2035. We believe these commitments are not only the right thing to do, but will also help strengthen the position of quality public transport in the communities we serve.”

Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said: “Working in partnership with National Express in the last three years we have managed to deliver an increase in passengers, brand-new buses, and fare freezes.

“Now I am delighted to be working with the company again to help tackle the region’s climate emergency. Air pollution is a major contributor to climate change in the West Midlands, and we need to make sure people across the region are being presented with clean, viable alternatives to the car.

“National Express have already done a brilliant job of upgrading their buses while keeping prices low, and the West Midlands Combined Authority and I will do all I can to support them to reach their zero-carbon pledge by 2030.”