"The increase came mainly from higher bus service fees offset by lower mileage, higher rail ridership offset by lower average fares, and also higher other operating income," it said.
The company noted its rail ridership increased by 4.5 per cent last year, with almost 271.3 million passenger trips, though this is still 39 per cent less than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
Revenue from other commercial services increased by 29.5 per cent to S$45.5 million last year, with SBS Transit attributing this to higher advertising revenue as more advertisers resumed their campaigns and reduced rental rebates given to tenants.
A final tax-exempt one-tier dividend of 2.45 cents per share has been proposed, said the public transport operator.
"Together with the interim tax-exempt one-tier dividend of 5.75 cents paid earlier, the total dividend for 2021 will be 8.20 cents per share or a payout ratio of 49.5 per cent if the final dividend is approved by shareholders at the Annual General Meeting on Apr 28, 2022."
While SBS Transit said it expects revenue from public transport services to pick up as rail ridership improves – with the Government allowing up to 50 per cent of employees to return to the workplace since Jan 1 – the company said it is unlikely that ridership in the near future will reach pre-pandemic levels, with many continuing to work from home.
And while revenue from other commercial services is expected to increase with the gradual recovery of the economy, the rate of growth is dependent on market sentiments and the economy’s rate of recovery, the company said.
"Operating costs especially staff costs are expected to be higher without any relief to be given from the Government’s Job Support Scheme. Rising energy prices due to global supply issues will also add to our cost pressures," it said.
SBS Transit noted the easing of COVID-19 restrictions may slow down, amid rising Omicron infections and the possible emergence of new variants in Singapore.
"Hence, the Group continues to maintain a cautious outlook for the rest of the financial year," it said.