C O M M I S S I O N N E W S R E L E A S E
Contact: Lowman S. Henry, (717) 939-9551 Ext. # 2934
|January 21, 1999|
Harrisburg, PA Traffic growth of over 4% on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for the first half of the 1998-99 fiscal year (June-November 1998) generated revenue growth of 5% versus the same period a year ago. Total Turnpike operating revenue for the six-month timeframe increased $9.3 million versus the prior year, to $191.7 million. In conjunction with operating spending being almost 5% under budget year-to-date, first half Net Earnings exceeded $120 million, nearly $10 million higher than last years first half earnings.
"Turnpike use by commercial businesses and the travelling public continued to grow at a healthy pace, and that has provided us a very strong bottom line to this point in our fiscal year," said Blair Fishburn, the Turnpikes Deputy Executive Director of Finance and Administration. "Realistically, I wouldnt say we expect to double these results in the second half of our fiscal year because we still have the unpredictable winter weather and associated costs ahead of us," Fishburn cautions.
Over the six-month period, a total of 82,381,000 vehicles traveled the Turnpike, an increase of 3,411,000 over the 78,970,000 vehicles that traveled the roadway over the June through November period in 1997. Passenger vehicle traffic grew 4.1%, from 69,318,000 vehicles to 72,152,000, while commercial vehicle traffic grew 6%, from 9,652,000 last year to 10,229,000 this year. The percent mix of passenger and commercial traffic remained the same year-to-year at 88% passenger cars and 12% commercial vehicles.
First-half commercial traffic revenue was up 6.6%, as the result of this 6% commercial traffic volume growth. Commercial traffic revenue grew five million dollars to $80.3 million for the first six months of the turnpikes fiscal year, from $75.3 million a year ago. Passenger vehicle traffic revenue grew four million dollars, or 3.9%, to $105.3 million from the prior years level of $101.3 million. The Fare Revenue percent mix was also constant year-to-year with passenger revenue comprising 57% of total fare revenue and commercial fare revenue 43%.
Regionally on the Turnpikes mainline sections, the highest traffic volume and fare revenue growth occurred in the western and central sections. Between the Gateway (Pa./Ohio border) and Downingtown, Pa. interchanges, year-to-year total traffic (passenger and commercial vehicles) growth was 6.6% and total fare revenue growth was 6.0%. This stretch of roadway accounts for approximately 36% of the Turnpikes total traffic volumes, and 56% of its total fare revenue. The Turnpikes Northeast Extension, between Lansdale, Pa. and Clark Summit, Pa., demonstrated the highest commercial traffic revenue growth, with an 8% increase over the previous year. Also, two of the three expansion sections in western Pa., the California Interchange and Beaver Valley Expressway reflected commercial fare revenue growth of 11% [However, their combined contribution to total commercial Turnpike revenue is less than 2%].
Improved financial management processes, planning and controls over both operating spending and investment activities resulted in the Turnpike leveraging its year-to-year revenue growth into an even greater increase in net operating earnings. First half spending of $77.6 million reflected a mere 1% increase over the prior year period, and was 4.7% under the six-month budgeted level of $81.4 million.
Offsetting the year-to-year expense growth was a $1.2 million increase in the Commissions interest income level, from $5.2 million, in the June to November 1997 period, to $6.4 million in the corresponding1998 period. This interest income growth is the result of pro-active, balanced portfolio management practices and investment policies instituted by the Commission and implemented in mid-1997. As a result, the Turnpike Commissions first-half net operating earnings grew almost 9%, to $120.9 million, from $111.2 million, an actual earnings growth of nearly $9.8 million. The six-month net earnings level exceeds the Turnpikes budget by $5.3 million, or 4.6%.
"The net earnings growth is critically important to us, because, after paying our debt service obligations, we use our earnings to fund the many capital improvement programs, both underway and planned, that maintain and improve our roadway for the comfort and safety of our customers," added Fishburn.
"Our outstanding first-half financials are rewarding," said John T. Durbin, Turnpike Executive Director, "because they validate the many financial and business management process and planning improvements weve put in place over the past two years. Our string of solid, steadily-improving financial performance results is timely in that it will enable the Pennsylvania Turnpike to meet the needs of our traveling public as we enter the 21st century."
Another measure of the commissions success was recognition by the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) which presented the Pennsylvania Turnpike with its Toll Innovation Award for developing strategies that resulted in upgraded credit ratings.
Formal adoption by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission in November of a strategic plan concludes implementation of recommendations to changes in the Turnpikes management structure recommended in a 1995 study conducted by Deloitte & Touche.
Turnpike officials credit changes brought about as a result of that study for contributing to the commissions strong financial performance during the first half of the 1998-99 fiscal year. Commission Chairman James Malone said: "Our entire organization, executives, managers and employees alike, have achieved exemplary success in implementing the recommendations made by Deloitte & Touche. We are meeting the needs of our customers, implementing improvement programs, and capitalizing on healthy economic growth. Instead of complacency when times are good, our organization is responding by making changes for the better, maximizing returns and, most importantly, improving Customer Service, Safety and Satisfaction."
P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676 Phone: (717) 939-9551 Fax: (717) 986-9649