21 Sep 2020


IRU’s first COVID-19 Impact Report demonstrates just how bad the pandemic has been for passenger transport companies. Bus and coach services for tourists are suffering the most, with losses in that segment in Europe expected to reach 82% this year. Overall The report estimates revenue losses of 57% for European passenger road transport companies alone in 2020.

This estimated average decline for passenger road transport in annual turnover for 2020 of -57% causes a ban of public transport and international movements across Europe, with the highest impact on the tourism sector. Most impacted Bulgaria, Spain, Sweden and the UK. IRU says governments need to act to save the sector, as increased use of collective passenger transport is essential to reaching European Green Deal targets and driving post-pandemic economic recovery. The pandemic is having an unprecedented effect on otherwise viable and healthy companies. Financial support is vital to avoid the collapse of the passenger transport sector.

Per country in Europe the impact differs but Covid-19 hits hard. In the UK it is minus 73%, in Germany -53%, France –59%, Spain -90%, Belgium -40%, Bulgaria -92%. In the Netherlands it is reported that losses in turnover can be up to 90% for individual companies, but overall it is -61% according to the IRU. The Dutch KNV sees a best-case scenario were 40% of the companies is going bankrupt. In Sweden passenger transport lost up to 90% of its revenues, practically overnight, but the government has announced that financial support measures will be extended for another three months.

In the United States the majority of coach transport operators are small and family-owned. IRU member the American Bus Association reports that, in the absence of passengers during the pandemic, 3,000 small businesses closed their doors, furloughing more than 100,000 employees and leaving idle 36,000 vehicles.

Elsewhere, operators are in desperate need of financial support from governments, as there is no sign of coach tourism picking up any time soon. IRU has set out a ten-point recovery plan to guide governments in taking the necessary steps to support a sector in crisis.


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