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Old September 10th, 2009, 05:59 AM   #361
hkskyline
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ANALYSIS-Traffic uptick to buoy European toll road operators

AMSTERDAM, Sept 9 (Reuters) - An improvement in traffic on European toll roads accompanying a recovery in the economy is set to give shares in operators a badly needed boost after a horrific year and relieve pressure on refinancing.

Analysts say traffic has bottomed out and only the pace of the rebound is in question, adding that an emerging correlation between light traffic and economic growth is proving to be a big positive for toll companies.

Operators like Abertis, Cintra, Brisa and APRR depend on tolls from commercial vehicles and travelers, making their income sensitive to the economy, as well as a leading indicator of economic health.

Operators saw traffic drop by 1.O-4.5 percent in 2008, but now expect a rise in light vehicle traffic, and a stabilisation in heavy vehicle traffic for the rest of 2009.

"I would expect 2010 to be a better year for toll roads because the sector expects to have reached the low point for traffic in 2009 and companies will also be able to increase their tariffs according to their concession agreements," said Standard & Poor's analyst Alexandre de Lestrange.

"Although these increases are linked to inflation, which has been low recently, I still expect toll increases to have a positive effect, particularly if companies are able to keep a tight grip on their operating expenses."

After a tough first quarter, many companies delivered bullish updates in the second quarter as the euro zone's economy contracted by just 0.1 percent.

Portugal's Brisa said it saw a "sharp recovery" in Q2 traffic of 5.6 percent and Italy's Atlantia saw a 0.9 percent increase for the months of July and August. French APRR and Vinci spoke of an upturn in light vehicle traffic while Spain's Abertis said the pace of traffic decline was slowing.

"In the case of Atlantia, we expect that a 1 percent increase in traffic in 2010 would result in a 2.5 percent increase in its EPS," said Barclays Capital analyst Susanna Invernizzi.

LIGHT VEHICLE BOOST

The upside to shares could be signficant: even an apparently small decline in traffic took shares in most European toll road operators down some 50 percent from their early 2008 levels.

That's because investors worry that these highly leveraged companies will not be able to counter the traffic downturn for long and sustain their cash flows just by pushing up tolls.

With heavy vehicle (cargo) traffic correlated to GDP growth, the economic recovery is seen as key for the revival of many toll roads that rely on trucks and containers, such as Germany's A-model roads.

But traffic analysts say evidence is growing that GDP growth is now becoming a key factor in determining light-vehicle (consumer) traffic as well, which has traditionally been tied to oil prices.

Indeed light vehicle traffic in Europe's toll roads deteriorated through the summer a year ago as economies slowed down despite a drop in oil prices.

"Paying tolls is a discretionary purchase, and when consumer confidence is low and cash is tight, as it has been in the last 18 months, toll roads have suffered larger falls in traffic than other roads," said AECOM director Martin Bright.

Official euro zone unemployment rose to 9.5 percent in July, its highest level in ten years, and this has translated into lower traffic, particularly for Spain and Ireland, the two top Western European countries in the unemployment table.

While analysts note a correlation between light traffic volume and unemployment rates, they also point to the fact that much of the existing traffic is supported by service sector professionals largely untouched by the economic downturn. Most drivers who use toll roads do so because they need to get to work quickly or because their company covers their costs, and will continue to pay tolls as long as they can afford them and have a job.

FINANCING IMPERATIVES

Road operators have tried to cut costs by delaying capital expenditure, such as putting back maintenance if the weather has been better than expected, although this can prove a risky strategy. They have also accelerated the automation of their toll collection systems.

An improvement in traffic would relieve pressure on refinancing by boosting cashflows. Companies are due to refinance debt in the next couple of years on more expensive terms than before.

"When traffic scenarios are not met, toll roads can struggle with their debt repayments, and there have been examples of restructurings in Spain as a result of the downturn," said a Spanish-based banker.

Toll roads that are not overleveraged and have proven themselves through the so-called "ramp-up" period -- usually the first five years of the concession -- are still attractive for investors.

"Toll roads are still a good investment, particularly over the medium to long-term," said Anita Mauchan, who co-leads the private infrastructure advisory team at Steer Davies Gleave.
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Old September 13th, 2009, 02:00 AM   #362
mattec
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisZwolle View Post
$ 1.30 for 88 miles.

Or to put it in European terms:

€ 0.90 for 142 km.

That can't be right...
It's a $1.30 per booth... except for the north beckley interchange ($.40 w/o WV EZpass or $.26 w/), which connects the turnpike to US 19 and isn't on the main route.

There are 3 main toll plazas. So it's $2.00 each w/o WV EZpass for a total of $6.00 oneway. With a WV EZpass it is $1.30 each for a total of $3.90 oneway.

http://www.wvturnpike.com/PDFfiles/NewTollSchedule.pdf

http://www.wvturnpike.com/turnpikemap.html
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Old September 14th, 2009, 08:14 PM   #363
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattec View Post
It's a $1.30 per booth... except for the north beckley interchange ($.40 w/o WV EZpass or $.26 w/), which connects the turnpike to US 19 and isn't on the main route.

There are 3 main toll plazas. So it's $2.00 each w/o WV EZpass for a total of $6.00 oneway. With a WV EZpass it is $1.30 each for a total of $3.90 oneway.

http://www.wvturnpike.com/PDFfiles/NewTollSchedule.pdf

http://www.wvturnpike.com/turnpikemap.html
$9.90 (like almost 6 euros) for a what distance? Because its really chip...
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Old September 14th, 2009, 08:17 PM   #364
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No, 6 dollars 88 miles without E-ZPass and 3.90 with E-ZPass.
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Old September 14th, 2009, 11:25 PM   #365
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The discount is only for WV EZpass, out of state EZpassers pay full rate.

Many locals in the area are upset because it costs them $7.80 (with EZpass) to drive to the state capitol and back, while others in the state can drive there for free. Another complaint is that everytime they come close to paying the thing off, they re-finance and extend the bonds, thus extending the tolls. It is actually a very complicated and complex local political situation that has been going on for years.
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Old September 15th, 2009, 01:49 PM   #366
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I presented few days ago toll rates on A4. Today I will present the rest of toll highways in Poland: parts of A2 (open toll system) and A1 (closed toll system).

A2:
http://autostrada-a2.pl/en/oplaty/stawki/

Attention: Driving westbound the first toll plaza is called Lądek, not Nagradowice. Nagradowice is next toll plaza. In Polish version all is correct. At every toll plaza (3) you must pay 11 PLN for the 1st class car (motorcycle and two-ahle vehicles)

A1:
http://www.autostradaa1.pl/en/tolling/toll-rates.html

The rest of Polish highways (A1 near Łódź, A2 southern Poznań beltway and Konin - Stryków section, A4 PL/D border - Mysłowice and the whole Kraków beltway, A6 and A18) are free.
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Old September 16th, 2009, 09:00 AM   #367
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TRANSFER OF POWER / Bumpy road ahead for toll-free plan?
14 September 2009
Daily Yomiuri

The Democratic Party of Japan's main preelection pledge to make expressways toll-free is attracting considerable attention ahead of the launch of the new DPJ-led administration.

Though the party insists the measure will revitalize regional economies by lowering distribution costs, train and bus service companies are opposing the move, saying their ridership will sharply decrease.

If the DPJ is to implement this step, it will have to address several important issues, such as how to finance the measure while protecting the environment from the expected increase in vehicle emissions.

Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co. President Kazuyuki Takeshima, who also serves as chairman of Kyushu Bus Kyokai, an association of bus operators in Kyushu, visited the Construction and Transport Ministry on Thursday to ask for the toll-free expressway plan to be postponed.

"Many bus passengers are elderly or in a weak position in terms of road use," Takeshima said. "If more bus routes disappear, regional communities will be damaged. The DPJ doesn't understand the effect [this would have]."

If expressways become toll-free, more people will use their cars and passenger numbers on express buses will fall dramatically.

Bus industry fears of lean times ahead were exacerbated when the current government cut expressway tolls to 1,000 yen.

Since March, when flat-fee 1,000 yen expressway tolls were introduced, users of express buses plummeted. During the Bon summer holidays in August, when the discount tolls were adopted, daily average ridership on express buses fell 12 percent from a year earlier.

For bus companies, which rely on routes including expressways for a large portion of their income, the measures to make all expressways toll-free could adversely affect the maintenance of local bus routes.

Ferry companies also are anxious. An official of Chugoku Ryokyakusen Kyokai Rengokai, a passenger boat association in the Chugoku region, said, "If [expressways become] toll-free, it'll be impossible for many boat companies to continue."

Also in the region, the up-to 1,000 yen expressway toll prices caused ferry companies' transport volume to fall by 10 percent to 30 percent, especially at companies with routes that rival the road routes that run via the three bridges that connect Honshu and Shikoku.

As a result, three ferry companies in the Chugoku region were forced to suspend their businesses.

The traffic service companies' discontent stems from fears that toll-free expressways will destroy order within various transport networks.

At a press conference Thursday, West Japan Railway Co. President Takayuki Sasaki said the toll-free measure could break the market share balance among transportation service firms.

"Each type of public transportation system will suffer due to surplus facilities," he said.

The DPJ has said the purpose of making expressways toll-free is to lower distribution costs and prices of goods, while revitalizing local communities and regional economies.

But some business owners say if expressways start being used every day, traffic among local communities will increase, truck delivery costs will fall, and it will be easier for local products to get to larger consumption areas.

A marine products wholesalers' association in Tokyo said, "More and more fish will be brought to Tokyo markets from distant parts of the nation."

A fruits and vegetable wholesaler said, "In many cases, big markets are located near expressway interchanges. The markets will be revitalized by an increase in shoppers."

According to an estimate by Merrill Lynch Japan Securities Co., toll-free expressways would cut costs by 7 billion yen in Yamato Holdings Co., between 4 billion yen and 5 billion yen in Nippon Express Co., and would push up their respective operating profits by at least 10 percent.

It is not yet known whether households would be affected positively or negatively.

According to the government's household census, each household spent an average of 8,923 yen on toll roads in 2008.

The DPJ estimates it would take 1.3 trillion yen to make all expressways toll-free. This is equivalent to a more than 10,000 yen per capita burden on taxpayers.

The pros and cons of the toll-free expressway issue also are being discussed from the viewpoint of the environment.

A research institute of the Coalition of Local Governments for Environmental Initiative, a nonprofit organization, said if expressways are made toll-free and the higher provisional tax rate on gasoline is abolished, carbon dioxide emissions could increase by at least 9.8 million tons per year.

The institute's chief researcher, Naomi Kamioka, said: "More and more people would use expressways to make relatively short journeys, meaning train and bus numbers would decrease due to lower profitability. Also, considering that car-use also would rise, these negative effects could be doubled or tripled."

DPJ President Yukio Hatoyama has presented a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from the 1990 level as the nation's midterm goal.

All eyes will be focused on the new government to see if it can balance its toll-free expressway measure and ambitions for tackling global warming.
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Old September 16th, 2009, 12:46 PM   #368
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The tolls on Japanese expressways are very steep. But so are the construction costs of those expressways. I think they should maintain some level of tolls to fund construction of new expressways.
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Old January 24th, 2010, 04:29 PM   #369
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Premier steps in to referee toll operators' tug-of-war
25 January 2010
The Courier-Mail





PREMIER Anna Bligh has urged toll operators to ensure motorists are properly prepared for the new tollways set to open in Brisbane.

It follows concerns that motorists may believe they need an electronic tag and account with each individual operator to properly use the toll roads and tunnels.

The State Government-owned Queensland Motorways and the Brisbane City Council-linked RiverCity Motorway are both heavily marketing their own e-tags - Go Via and Flow - which rake in millions in account fees and interest on top of the tolls.

RiverCity Motorway recently sent a notice with council rates bills promoting the use of Flow for the Clem7 tunnel. But the material failed to mention owning a Go Via tag would be sufficient for using the underground route linking Bowen Hills and Woolloongabba when it opened in coming months.

Ms Bligh said it was important for operators to make it clear that a single electronic tag and account could be used for all toll roads and tunnels, regardless which company it was sourced from.

``As our capital city moves to open a number of new tunnels and tollways, it is important for motorists to be able to move between those different tollways and across the road network with ease and understand what their obligations are,'' she said.

``I want to make it clear to all motorists in the area that all of this equipment is interchangeable and you don't need to worry about that as you go from one tollway to a tunnel, for example.''
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Old January 24th, 2010, 05:54 PM   #370
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sydney Morning Herald
Scrapping the M4 toll will make roads worse
PATRICIA FORSYTHE
January 18, 2010

At midnight on February 15 the privately operated M4 motorway will be handed back to the State Government. It has pledged to scrap the $2.75 toll and provide commuters with a toll-free motorway that stretches from Strathfield to the Blue Mountains.

Superficially, this would appear to be good for residents and business operators in Sydney's west.

The NSW Auditor-General has reported that the M4 is near capacity and that an additional 2000 vehicles an hour will use it, 500 of those as a result of the toll being removed and the rest through natural growth.

It may seem that Sydneysiders are the winners and keep the $2.75 toll in their wallets, but the cost of congestion, of wear and tear on their cars and of stress and more time spent away from families will outweigh that saved money.

Two big challenges face us with transport in Sydney: how we manage congestion in peak hour and how we improve our transport links. Scrapping the M4 toll helps us with neither. In fact it makes things worse.

Sydney is a city that is being slowly strangled by its congested road network. The federal Bureau of Transport and Regional Economies has estimated the cost of congestion in Sydney is $3.5 billion a year, and that is expected to rise to $7.8 billion in 2020.

The daily commute on the M4 has become a slow grind, the average speed in the morning peak being a painful 29km/h (19mph). It is a little better in the afternoon, 39km/h (24mph).

This has not been helped by the fact that the Government has been subsidising private vehicles using the M4 through the cashback scheme, which has cost taxpayers nearly AUD$1 billion (US$901 million/GBP559 million/EUR 637million).

So with a major arterial motorway on the verge of transport chaos, why is the Government embracing a policy that will encourage more motorists to use the M4 and turn it into a car park?

I respect a government that wants to keep its promises, but not if it is going to increase the cost of operating a business and drive those businesses to other cities, those that embrace an integrated transport system that manages its road use effectively.

Tolling roads is no longer merely a method of funding infrastructure that reduces the cost burden of building roads on the taxpayer. It is now also about sending behavioural signals to commuters about how we want to travel around our city.

Scrapping the M4 toll now would leave a gaping hole in any future congestion management strategy for the city. Retaining it would provide the Government with a tool to effectively manage the use of the road. For example, the traffic volume on the Sydney Harbour Bridge dropped 4.5 per cent when the Government introduced variable tolling depending on the time of day.

With the state budget under increasing pressure, how do we fund the expansion of public transport and fill in the missing road links we increasingly need to support our growing population?

The Sydney Business Chamber conducted a survey of Sydneysiders late last year that revealed 70 per cent of commuters supported retaining the M4 toll if it was invested in new transport projects. When it came to the projects they wanted to see delivered, the M4 East, north-west rail link and a western metro were top of the list - all projects that would benefit residents and business operators in Sydney's west.

Simply put, scrapping the M4 toll is bad policy. If we are serious about building a city that we can move around quickly and efficiently, following the same old failed transport policies is not the solution.

Tough decisions are needed on transport in Sydney. Keeping the M4 toll will be the first big test if we are prepared to put long-term improvements over short-term gains.

Patricia Forsythe is the executive director of the Sydney Business Chamber.
I added conversions for the international readership.
The article says that the traffic will increase by 1500 anyway. I think that there should be a test for 6-12 months on how the traffic increases, then depending on the result, open the toll booths again or tear them down.
Also, the woman is saying that the toll may fund new transport projects. The State Government has had a history of brain farts with transport money.
Train lines covering an area that was promised transport for 20 years were dumped for a metro that covers the CBD, which would run empty 87% of the time....during peak hour.

Last edited by mubd; January 24th, 2010 at 06:08 PM.
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Old January 27th, 2010, 06:45 PM   #371
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Toll road inquiries hit a dead end
Toronto Star
24 December 2009

Getting answers to important questions from the 407 toll road is impossible, now that its officials refuse to communicate with us.

We're pursuing many lines of inquiry in our coverage of the 407's hardball billing practices and outrageous interest charges, but the toll road has stymied recent attempts to get answers.

It appears to be the 407's way of dealing with us for challenging them on their requests for corrections on two errors they say we made in an earlier column.

On Dec. 12 we said drivers must pay the 407 whatever it demands, even if it cannot provide proof of the charges. The 407 says we got it wrong because "any customer can request Bill Reprints that provide exact details of each and every trip."

What we should have said is that it almost always chooses not to provide photo images of vehicles entering or exiting the road, based on the many readers who say they requested such proof but were not provided with photo evidence.

The 407 also took exception to our statement that some people can't dispute bills they disagree with. They say customers can contact its call centre and customer advocacy department, its ombudsman and, for those who have had their licence plate renewal denied over an unpaid bill, independent arbitrators.

Our statement that people can't dispute charges is based on the many readers (700-plus complaints poured in) who told us they tried to dispute a bill through those same channels, but got nowhere.

We'd be surprised if many readers disagree with the statements which riled the 407, yet we tried to clarify them - to no avail.
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