SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - In a business update, transport operator SBS Transit posted a profit after tax of $23.3 million for the first quarter ended March 31, 2021, more than doubling from S$11.1 million the year before.
Revenue fell 6.5 per cent to $317 million but operating profit increased 70.9 per cent to $24.9 million. Without Covid-19 government reliefs, operating profit would have fallen 52.5 per cent to $6.3 million.
Revenue from the public transport services segment was 6.5 per cent lower mainly due to lower rail ridership and lower service fees. Revenue from other commercial services was down 7.6 per cent mainly because of lower advertising revenue.
SBS Transit said it has observed a gradual pick-up of daily ridership on both the Downtown Line (DTL) and North-East Line (NEL). As at the end of March 2021, NEL and DTL's ridership was 65-70 per cent of the levels before the Covid-19 outbreak.
Operating costs fell because of wage subsidies, lower salaries and related costs, and lower repairs and maintenance costs.
The company noted that while rail ridership is improving, it is unlikely to return to pre-Covid levels as more companies are adopting work-from-home practices for their employees.
It sees a prolonged and uneven recovery ahead, barring any second wave of Covid-19 infections in Singapore. In addition, the Jobs Support Scheme that provides wage subsidies will be much reduced in 2021.
Net cash excluding finance leases as at end-March stood at $122.6 million, higher than S$60.6 million as at Dec 31.