Bus company Stagecoach said it was operating in a “radically different environment” compared with 12 months ago after the pandemic pushed pre-tax profits down by 91 per cent.

The company’s profits fell to £5.4m in the six months to October 31 compared with £65.9m for the same period last year, while revenue fell 43 per cent to £454.6m.

The largest regional bus operator in the UK said that passenger numbers were now at around 54 per cent of last year’s levels.

“While the situation remains fluid, we have made progress in the restoration of our networks to close to pre-Covid levels and in growing passenger volumes safely,” Martin Griffiths, chief executive, said.

“We have a strong business, with good liquidity, devolved operating companies closely focused on our customers and local communities, and a supportive relationship with government and our local authority partners.”

The government in August pledged rolling funding to the bus sector until a time when it is no longer needed, having spent hundreds of millions of pounds throughout the year keeping vehicles on the road despite the collapse in passenger numbers.

Stagecoach last month said it had secured an extension to its banking covenant waivers until October 2021. Shares in the bus company have fallen by 40 per cent in the past 12 months.