New UK bus and coach registrations fell 77.1% in the second quarter of this year, with just 328 units joining British roads, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The decline follows an almost complete standstill of public road passenger transport as pandemic lockdown measures were implemented throughout the country from mid-March.

Single-deck bus registrations saw the biggest decline, down 93.3% to 51 vehicles, as double-deck bus demand also fell substantially, down 62.7%. Meanwhile, demand for minibuses fell 57.6% to slightly more than 200 vehicles, albeit still showing a growth in the year to date of 21.5%, following a buoyant first quarter.

Overall, figures for the first six months show a decrease in demand of more than a third (-34.6%) to 1,731 units. Registrations of single-decks and double-decks fell significantly, dropping by 67.5% and 61.7% respectively.

“The pandemic has had a devastating effect on the UK bus and coach market,” said SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes. “With lockdown measures halting nearly all road public transport, operators’ willingness and ability to invest in their fleets has plummeted.

“It’s essential this vital sector can spring back into action as restrictions ease and people return to work and school. We urgently need the government investment announced earlier this year to be released to get the sector moving and the latest low emissions buses on the road to replace the most polluting older vehicles.

“Longer term, we need a national bus strategy to help inject confidence into both the sector and, importantly, the travelling public.”