National Express gets boost from US school buses

City A.M. Reporter
BRITISH transport firm National Express Group’s full-year profit has risen on strong performance at its US school bus and UK coach divisions, and the company said it was confident about growth in 2012.

It added that it was not looking to exit its UK rail business, which accounted for 31 per cent of its 2011 revenue, despite the loss of a contract that would significantly reduce its exposure to rail.

National Express said it expected passenger revenue to continue to grow in its bus and coach divisions in 2012, and raised its final dividend by 8.3 per cent.

“There has been a dramatic turnaround in passenger numbers in the last six months,” chief executive Dean Finch said.

Passenger journeys rose by 5.4m journeys to 656.6m in 2011.

National Express is benefitting from an increase in the use of public transport prompted by higher fuel costs, expensive rail travel and rising car park fees in city centres.

Its order value at the end of 2011 was £3.7bn.

Full-year pre-tax profit rose to £180.2m, from £160.5m a year ago. Revenue rose five per cent to £2.24bn.

National Express’ North America revenue jumped five per cent in 2011 as budget constraints at US schools encouraged the use of outsourced bus operations.

Its UK coach business -- which provides airport, long-haul and commuter services -- saw revenue grow four per cent.