A "Dunkirk spirit" saw snowed-in Britons ditch their cars and turn to buses to ensure they made it into work last month, transport group Go-Ahead said today.
The firm, which carries around 1.6 million bus passengers every day, said it saw a rise in fare paying bus passengers in January as passengers struggled into work and it did its best to keep services running in the snow.
Keith Ludeman, group chief executive, added: "There’s something about the English character that when times are difficult, people really try their hardest to get into work, and we also had really good attendance in our bus depots."
But the adverse weather hit the firm’s Govia rail business, which is jointly owned with French transport group Keolis.
Its Southeastern rail franchise came in for particular criticism in a recent London Assembly report into the travel disruption after Go-Ahead ran only about half of its normal service.
Neighbouring train operators such as Govia-owned Southern and Stagecoach’s South West Trains attempted to provide either a full or slightly reduced service, according to the assembly’s transport committee.
But Go-Ahead said the snow had "very little impact" on revenues last month.
It reported a 17% drop in underlying pre-tax profits to £50 million for the six months to January 2, although the firm said adjusted operating profits of £54.2 million were better than it had expected.
Its bus business showed resilience amid the recession, with underlying earnings up 9.2% as cash-strapped consumers opted for cheaper ways of travelling.
Earnings in the rail business - covering Southern, Southeastern and London Midland - plunged 43%, although the group said it was seeing signs of a turnaround as economic conditions improve.