Nottingham Express Transit (NET) has revealed that, whilst showing substantial recovery, as with all public transport operators across the country, it is yet to see passenger volumes recover to pre-pandemic levels.
The comment follows publication of the annual accounts for the year to 31 March 2022 by Tramlink Nottingham Limited, which operates the NET concession.
The company reported a loss for the operator as a result of the impacted passenger volumes and will be liaising with the Department for Transport and Nottingham City Council to put in place further plans to adapt its operations for the post-COVID economy.
Despite not yet reaching pre-Covid levels of traffic volumes in the last financial year, demand has continued to positively increase.
The year to March 2022 saw passenger journeys recover to 9.1m, compared to 3.4m in prior years, and that recovery has continued throughout 2022 to 13.5m and around 80 per cent of traffic volumes before the pandemic. This is in line with the forecast.
Meanwhile, losses for the transport operator reduced to £20.4m compared to £21.9m last year.
Tim Hesketh, CEO of Tramlink said:
“We remain in such difficult times, thanks to the longstanding effects of the pandemic, the current economic climate and the ongoing high energy costs which are posing some real challenges to our operations.
“It’s clear the world is a much different place now than just three years ago, and we’re committed to doing all we can to keep up with those changes.
“Nottingham remains committed to its green ambitions and our trams have played a key part in helping the city reach those goals.
“No one can be certain what the next few years will bring, but we’re confident the trams will continue to be an integral part of everyday life here in Nottingham.
“We’d like to thank all our staff, partners and loyal customers for all their support over the past year.”
As a leading partner in Nottingham’s CN28 agenda which details its objective of being the first carbon-neutral city in England by 2028, Tramlink’s network continues to be the city’s most sustainable form of public transport, powered by green energy and taking millions of vehicles off the road.
The concession which allows Tramlink to run the NET tram system runs until 2034 and factors in losses in the earlier years that represent investments in the system, including expanding the network in 2015 and buying new tram vehicles.
The loss reported during this year’s accounts is in line with the previous year as well as financial expectations.
Over the past few years, the operator has made a range of changes to its service including the implementation of Zero Tolerance fare evasion campaigns which have been running since the pandemic and have resulted in a 200 per cent increase in penalty fares issued each month. The company remains committed to reducing fare evasion and has been working with enforcement personnel to improve surveillance, safety and working practices.
NET continues to invest in products and services and has in the last year:
- Replaced all ticket machines to enable contactless payment, Robin Hood Multi-Operator top-ups and improve the customer interface experience
- Introduced new validators to facilitate contactless payment across network and further enabled participation in the Nottingham Contactless Multi-Operator scheme with Nottingham City Transport and Nottingham Community Transport.
NET will continue to invest in new products and streamline existing ones where appropriate.