Fitch predicts higher tolls as traffic continues decline

| 6/12/2009

When toll authorities see a decline in revenue, what do they do? They raise tolls, of course.

Analysts with Fitch Ratings predict that road and bridge tolls in North America will continue to go up as traffic remains in a state of decline on both public and private tollways.

Fitch Managing Director Mike McDermott says the decline in traffic – especially commercial traffic – is closely tied to the economy.

“Looking at the sector, expressways have been and continue to be more resilient on the performance side due to their high commuter base, while turnpikes continue to see pressure as a larger part of revenue is derived from commercial traffic, which is more sensitive to economic changes,” McDermott stated in a press release.

“While urban bridge systems have the greatest economic ratemaking flexibility, they also have higher toll rates that will need to go higher to finance systems and non-system capital demands, putting them more at risk.”

Fitch analysts will officially release their report by teleconference on Wednesday, June 17.

– By David Tanner, staff writer