Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

FirstGroup awaits funding news from England and Wales

bus services

Scottish transport giant FirstGroup has yet to secure an extension or replacement for bus recovery grant funding south of the border.

The Aberdeen-based company said in a trading update earlier today it was “engaging with” the Department for Transport regarding an extension to the scheme running in England until early April.

A recovery grant scheme in Wales is currently funded to the end of July 2022.

Passengers are returning to travel again following the easing of the Omicron-related restrictions put in place in December.

David Martin, executive chairman, FirstGroup.

Although all travel restrictions in England ended on February 24, passenger volumes there remain “significantly below” pre-pandemic levels, FirstGroup said.

Further financial support is needed to “maintain services and support the economic recovery”, the firm added.

Earlier this month the Scottish Government announced a new £94 million bus grant scheme, which includes an additional £40m to support passenger volume recovery.

The new funding programme in Scotland starts on April 1, replacing pandemic support arrangements which end on that date.

There was no update from FirstGroup on the hunt for a new chief executive following the departure of Matthew Gregory last autumn.

Matthew Gregory.

Mr Gregory quit after the firm’s largest shareholder, Coast Capital, called for him to go in a row over the sale of its First Student and First Transit businesses in North America.

The company then went on to complete the disposal of its iconic Greyhound inter-city coach business across the Atlantic, selling it to German firm FlixMobility for £125m.

Elsewhere in today’s trading statement, FirstGroup said current trading was in line with management’s expectations – notwithstanding the recent Omicron-related travel restrictions

Volumes at First Bus have improved to more than 70% of pre-pandemic levels overall and to around 75% across operations in England since the easing of Covid restrictions.

The bus operations have also been boosted in 2022 by the return to schools and universities after the Christmas and New Year period, when demand is typically lower.

Mileage reductions affecting some routes “have begun to ease as the number of employees self-isolating has reduced in recent weeks”, FirstGroup said.

“Buses have a central role to play in achieving many of society’s objectives”, the company said, adding: “The UK Government’s recently published Levelling Up White Paper reinforced the importance of public transport connectivity.”

FirstGroup – whose shares were up by nearly 3% at 101.8p at market close – also said its management fee-based rail operations were “delivering performance metrics in line with our expectations.”

One of FirstGroup’s Great Western Railway trains arriving at Bristol Temple Meads station.

Executive chairman David Martin added: “We now have a focused and simplified group, and continue to enhance our financial strength and resilience by proactively managing the legacy assets and liabilities associated with last year’s portfolio rationalisation.

“We are pleased that passengers are returning to travel again following the easing of the Omicron-related restrictions put in place in December.

“It demonstrates our conviction there is significant latent demand for travel on our services and we look forward to providing vital connections for our customers as the recovery continues to build.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]