Impact of Covid-19 on means of Commuting in the UK

Impact of Covid-19 on means of Commuting in the UK


  • Transport, both public and private came to a standstill due to Covid-19 pandemic
  • Alexander Dennis Limited is going for 650 job cuts in the UK due to decrease in UK demand for new buses
  • There has been repeated call from ADL upon the UK Government as well as the Scotland Government for acting presently to pre-empt further job losses

As the coronavirus pandemic washed up the shores of the UK, the British government imposed the lockdown to curb the spread of the deadly epidemic. Most of the economic activities came to a screeching halt, including transport. People were encouraged to practice social distancing and remain indoors. Therefore, transport, both public and private came to a standstill. The only essential commute was allowed during the unprecedented crisis.

During the peak of the coronavirus, people were primarily dependent on online grocers, who ensured doorstep delivery by increasing the number of delivery slots. Education institutions made a swift transition to online mode for delivering classes. Private businesses, primarily service-based entities, encouraged their employees to work from home.

The novel coronavirus has wreaked havoc on the travel & tourism sector. Although the British government has eased the lockdown, the strict quarantine regime for incoming travellers has been detrimental for the commuting businesses. The incoming travellers are advised to avoid using public transport facilities.

Commuting Businesses have been deeply impacted

Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), the Scottish-based world's largest bus maker is reportedly making job cuts of 650 staffs because of a massive decrease in UK demand for new buses and coaches. The company, which carries out significant manufacturing activities at Falkirk, attributed a downturn in orders brought about by the lockdown, social distancing and a low number of travellers.

The coming weeks will see the beginning of a formal consultation on the restructuring programme, placing up to 650 out of 2,300 in danger the overall capacity and all of ADL's offices in the UK.

The chief executive of ADL, Colin Robertson, who is progressing from his job as a Vice-Chairman in the parent group NFI's board, stated that a couple of months back, they were looking forward at a record year of sales, receiving the rewards of all their investment in innovation, new items and new markets. The effect of COVID-19 has changed the scenario entirely. The company has been in constant dialogue with the UK and Scottish Governments since March, in order to make them aware of the emergency which the industry has been confronting. The company is profoundly thankful to the UK Government, for extending a helping hand in the form of Job Retention Scheme and is grateful for the Prime Minister's emphasis prior to this period of the vow he made in February to bring 4,000 new green buses in operations.

He further added that the company has been calling upon the UK Government as well as the Scotland Government for acting presently to pre-empt further job losses and protect the UK's leading bus and coach manufacturing industry. ADL remains obstinately dedicated to working with its clients and supporting the transport industry, which itself is combating an unprecedented crisis.

ADL has utilised the UK Government's Job Retention Scheme, has also executed pay reductions and diminished working hours for non-furloughed staff, coupled with severe cost reduction measures in overall business capacities. The company said that these measures taken so far were not enough to adjust the organisation's cost base to the current economic conditions, and it is presently trying to move to a more slender, increasingly manufacturing model that keeps up its strong customer focus.

ADL's president & managing director, Paul Davies, said that as the UK's leading manufacturer of bus and the world leader in double-deck buses, the company aims to continue to deliver the targets of the Governments' congestion, decarbonisation and clean air targets.

The changes that ADL would be making is a part of a broader restructuring programme announced by NFI, which will affect ADL's sister companies in the United States and Canada as well.

About the Company

It's a leading subsidiary bus manufacturing company of the NFI Group. The company specialises in designing and manufacturing double-deck buses and is also the UK's largest bus and coach manufacturer. Employing 2,700 staffs from all over the world, it has excelled in tripling its revenue in the last ten years. The company is involved in manufacturing of single deck buses, double-deck buses (2 axles), double-deck buses (3 axles) and Plaxton coaches.

British Passenger Trend

People still lack the confidence to go out as they fear the infection. Although the reproductive rate (R) is under control (less than 1), yet some instances paint a very gloomy picture. Recently, a local lockdown was imposed in the city of Leicester due to a sudden spike in coronavirus cases. The deadly pandemic has already claimed more than 45 thousand lives across the UK. Despite all these, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has tried the Britons to get great discounts by launching 'Eat out to Help out' scheme. It is difficult to say now whether the scheme would benefit the commuting sector or not. However, given the prevailing conditions in the economy, people are expected to use more often their personal transport in the near term.

In June 2020, the Office for National Statistics, UK, published a report sharing the latest available quarterly bus statistics for Great Britain from January to March 2020. Local bus passenger journeys and fares have been covered in the report. In Q1 2020, the number of local bus passenger journeys saw a decrease of 4.3 per cent to £4.59 billion in comparison with the figures for Q4 2019. The local bus fares increased by 2.6 per cent in the year to March 2020, faster than the all-items Consumer Prices Index rate of inflation (1.5 per cent). However, these figures reflect the data for only one week of lockdown, which was imposed on 23 March 2020. The data for Q2 2020 is expected to showcase a much sharper drop in bus travel statistics.

The government had announced £5 billion of new funding for cycling and buses in February 2020, and when the pandemic struck and while the buses were not plying, it announced the £2 billion plan to boost cycling and walking, starting with £250 million to enable local authorities to pay for “pop-up” cycling and walking infrastructure. The government’s focus has been on alternative ways to travel, which undoubtedly will have a positive impact on the health of the citizens but may negatively impact public transport, especially buses.


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