National Express is to suspend its entire network of coach services across the UK from Monday due to the latest Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The company, a major provider of timetabled coach routes, said it would be halting all services until March.
Chris Hardy, the managing director of National Express UK Coach, said: “We have been providing an important service for essential travel needs. However, with tighter restrictions and passenger numbers falling, it is no longer appropriate to do this.”
All journeys until Sunday night will run as planned to ensure that no passengers making essential journeys are stranded, National Express said, while customers whose travel has been cancelled will be contacted for free rebooking or full refunds.
Hardy said there was a provisional restart date of 1 March in place but warned that could change: “As the vaccination programme is rolled out and government guidance changes, we will regularly review when we can restart services.
“We will now make sure we are ready to get back behind the wheel as soon as the nation needs us again.”
National Express suspended its coach operations for almost three months from April 2020 in the first lockdown.
While local bus operations have been underwritten by a government bailout, which is giving operators assistance equivalent to lost revenue, intercity coach services have not had similar financial guarantees.
Since the start of the pandemic National Express has launched a division called Transport Solutions to use its brand and coaches in the vastly changed market.
The withdrawal of coach services comes as the Department for Transport and train operators consider which rail services will be withdrawn, with around 50% of the timetable likely to be suspended during the lockdown.