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Public transport fare revenue falls 30% amid COVID-19 pandemic: LTA annual report

Public transport fare revenue falls 30% amid COVID-19 pandemic: LTA annual report

Buses parked at Bishan Bus Interchange on Sep 3, 2021. (Photo: Try Sutrisno Foo)

SINGAPORE: Public transport fare revenue collected by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) saw a 30 per cent drop in the last financial year, amid a decline in ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic

According to LTA's annual report released on Thursday (Sep 30), fare revenue dropped to S$607 million for the FY2020/2021, down from S$862 million for the previous financial year. 

Bus ridership fell to 2.88 million daily trips last year, a decline of about 30 per cent from 2019. 

MRT ridership, meanwhile, dropped by 40 per cent, from 3.38 million trips per day in 2019 to 2.02 million trips per day in 2020.

For the last financial year, LTA's total operating income fell by S$222 million to S$1.64 billion - a decline of about 12 per cent.

Its operating expenditure increased by S$249 million, or nearly 6 per cent, to about S$4.59 billion. This is up from about S$2.72 billion for the 2016/2017 financial year - an increase of almost 70 per cent over the past five years. 

The largest percentage increase in expenditure consisted mostly of incentives paid to rail operators for meeting reliability targets, which went up almost 60 per cent to S$538 million. 

Former Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung had said in May that Singapore’s two rail operators, SMRT and SBS Transit, were awarded S$173 million in rail reliability incentives last year. 

Service fees paid to public bus operators amounted to about S$1.7 billion in expenditure, up about 11 per cent from FY2019/2020.  

Meanwhile, LTA received about S$2.9 billion in grants from the Government. 

Overall, the agency’s net deficit fell to S$16 million from S$107 million in the previous financial year. 

Speaking to the media last week, Minister for Transport S Iswaran said that public transport ridership is now at about 60 per cent of what it was before the coronavirus outbreak. 

He cautioned, however, that this may not be indicative of the longer-term financial sustainability of the public transport sector, given the current COVID-19 crisis. 

When asked if commuters should expect to pay higher fares this year, Mr Iswaran said any fare adjustment will depend on the Public Transport Council's annual fare review exercise.

There were no changes to public transport fares following last year’s fare review exercise, due to the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

Source: CNA/az(gs)

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