Financial statement 2020: the coronavirus pandemic reduced ticket revenue and damaged finances

Our results for 2020 showed a deficit of nearly EUR 72 million, while the budget provided for a deficit of roughly EUR 23 million. The weak performance resulted from the massive losses of ticket revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, our results showed a deficit of EUR 71.7 million, more than ever before. The decline in results was caused by the loss of passengers due to the coronavirus pandemic, causing ticket revenue to crash.

Last year, we collected EUR 243.3 million in ticket revenue, EUR 148 million less than budgeted. The amount of ticket revenue was roughly EUR 140 million lower than in 2019. Passenger numbers decreased by 36.5 per cent from 2019. Our estimated ticket sales in 2020 were based on an expected increase of 1.5 per cent in passenger numbers.

The share of ticket revenue in operating income decreased

In 2020, our operating revenue totaled EUR 665.4 million, down by EUR 82.8 million from 2019, and EUR 89.6 million below the 2020 budget.

Ticket revenue accounted for 36.6 per cent and municipal contributions of our member municipalities for 51.9 per cent of operating income. The share of ticket revenue in operating income decreased by 14.6 percentage points from 2019.

Municipal contributions totaled EUR 345.3 million as budgeted. We were able to cover 48 per cent of our operating expenses with municipal contributions.

We received EUR 66.7 million in subsidies and grants, of which EUR 56.6 million was received from the government to cover ticket revenue lost due to the coronavirus epidemic. HSL received EUR 4.8 million in state subsidies to public transport in large cities.

“HSL’s finances are in a worse shape than ever before, and covering our deficit will quickly increase our indebtedness”, says Executive Director Mika Nykänen. “If it were not for the government’s coronavirus subsidies, our deficit would have been much greater. In January 2021, HSL’s Executive Board appealed to the Finnish Government to issue new subsidies for public transport, as we do not expect passenger numbers to return to the pre-pandemic level even in 2022."

"New restrictions deteriorate our situation even further, and it is important that the government decides on new subsidies for public transport as early as in the next budget framework session.”

Operating costs lower than budgeted

In 2020, our operating expenses totaled EUR 719.1 million, down by roughly EUR 20 million from 2019, and EUR 40.3 million below the budget.

The majority of our operating expenses consisted of purchased services, with public transport operating costs being the largest item. We paid a total of EUR 507.1 million to transport operators, comprising 70.5 per cent of total operating expenses.

Our public transport operating costs were EUR 33.7 million lower than budgeted. This can be explained, for example, by the prices of fuels and lubricants, as well as other forms of energy, increasing less than we had budgeted.

In addition, low interest rates reduced the vehicle costs. Interest rates have a significant impact on the operating costs of  metro, tram and train services.

We paid EUR 146.8 million in compensation for the public transport infrastructure to member municipalities. This amount was as budgeted. In addition, we acquired the charging infrastructure in Espoo for electric buses as a purchased service at a price of EUR 1.5 million.

Expenses other than the operating and infrastructure costs totaled EUR 63.7 million, EUR 7.2 million less than budgeted. Investment expenses were EUR 16.8 million, falling EUR 5.2 million below the budget due to the postponement of certain projects to upcoming years.

Personnel expenses were EUR 23.4 million, EUR 0.6 million below the budgeted level.