HSL Interim Report 2/2014: Recession decreases public transport ridership and ticket revenue

The weak economic situation affects also the finances of HSL and municipalities. Poor employment conditions are reflected in reduced ticket revenue and number of journeys.

On the basis of the data available at the end of August, public transport ridership will decrease by slightly over one percentage point from 2013. Ticket revenue is anticipated to come in some two percent less than projected. As operating expenses are projected to fall substantially short of the budget estimate, HSL’s loss for the financial year is estimated to be EUR 1.4 million, while the budget provides for a loss of EUR 8.3 million.

“The declining economic prospects of the municipalities decrease their possibilities to invest in the development of public transport. In the current economic situation, there is increasing pressure to increase ticket prices to outweigh the increased costs and to increase municipal contributions if we want to maintain the present level of public transport service,” says HSL Executive Director Suvi Rihtniemi. About half of HSL’s operating income is from the owner municipalities and the other half from ticket income.

In 2014, just short of 350 million public transport journeys are made in the HSL area, some 0.6 percentage points less than in 2013. At the beginning of the year, the decrease in the number of journeys was more marked but in the summer the numbers were slightly up. The numbers of Metro and tram journeys have decreased the most. On bus services, regional journeys have substantially increased and there is some increase also on Vantaa internal bus routes. By contrast, passenger numbers on internal bus services in Helsinki, Espoo and Kirkkonummi as well as on U line buses are lower than last year. There is some increase in the commuter train ridership.  

On the basis of the latest data, HSL estimates the 2014 operating income to amount to EUR 595.5 million, i.e. one percent short of the budget. Municipal contributions are estimated to be EUR 290.2 million. The ticket revenue is estimated to amount EUR 287.7 million which is 1.8 percent below the budget. Ticket prices were increased by an average 3 percent at the beginning of the year.

Operating expenses are estimated to amount to EUR 589.1 million, falling EUR 12.6 million short of the budget. Savings in public transport operating costs are estimated to amount to EUR 12.6 million. The savings are due to lower than anticipated increase in the cost of bus services thanks to more moderate fuel prices than projected. Also the rolling stock costs of train services are lower than anticipated thanks to the low interest rates.

HSL’s investment costs are estimated to amount to EUR 20.7 million, EUR 2 million below the budget. Procurements related to the ticketing and information system reform account for three quarters of the investment costs. Post-poning of some of the sub-project to the next year affects the amount of investment costs. 

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