Cintra profits even as toll traffic declines

| 1/15/2009

Even with fewer vehicles using toll roads in a struggling North American economy, Spanish road operator Cintra still managed to make a profit in December 2008 thanks to toll increases, company officials stated in a recent report.

Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte, S.A., based in Madrid, co-operates the Chicago Skyway in Illinois, the Indiana Toll Road in Indiana and the 407 Express Toll Route in Toronto, Canada, with subsidiaries of Macquarie Bank based in Sydney, Australia.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association continues to oppose the long-term leasing of existing roadways to the private sector – particularly to foreign-based companies and banks.

OOIDA officials oppose the idea of these private companies being guaranteed profitable toll increases on the backs of highway users.

Cintra-operated toll assets saw a decrease in traffic in 2008, which would have meant a revenue loss if Cintra and Macquarie hadn’t been guaranteed toll increases on their respective long-term concession agreements in Illinois, Indiana and Ontario.

A 27-percent toll increase on the Chicago Skyway allowed Cintra to net a14.3 percent profit in December and a 17 percent profit for the year 2008, officials stated.

In Indiana, a guaranteed toll increase built into the 75-year lease allowed Cintra to increase revenue by 1.5 percent in December and 2.5 percent for the year.

“The approximately 20 percent increase in heavy-vehicle tolls in April mitigated the impact of falling traffic,” Cintra officials stated.

The Cintra-Macquarie partnership is guaranteed an additional toll increase in 2010 in Indiana for heavy trucks. After that toll increases will be indexed to inflation until 2081.

On the 407 ETR in Toronto, traffic was down 0.3 percent, but tolls are set to increase in February of this year according to Cintra.

– By David Tanner, staff writer