Traffic volumes on the USA’s largest toll road systems recovered to an 8.7% year-over-year decline in November (following drops of approximately 50% year over year in April 2020, due to the pandemic), according to new analysis from Conduent Transportation.
The gains in traffic volumes are a reflection of states lifting Covid-19-related restrictions since spring, as well as efforts by state and local tolling agencies to encourage road usage by motorists. Conduent is also supporting clients as more transportation agencies shift to all-cashless transactions, which eliminates the handling of currency and limits exposures.
Traffic trends could remain volatile heading into 2021. For example, the traffic volume recovery peaked in September, but year-over-year declines widened slightly in October and November.
Conduent’s analysis of 2020 toll road trends encompasses six of the 10 largest toll systems in the US, including systems in California, Florida, New Jersey and New York. Combined these systems averaged nearly 270 million motorist transactions per month in 2019.
“The recovery in toll traffic on US road systems from the steep declines in the spring shows the impact of states lifting restrictions that kept people off roads and highways and away from local businesses and workplaces,” says Scott Doering, vice president and general manager of road usage charging at Conduent Transportation. “The volume improvement is also a result of actions taken by tolling agencies to encourage motorists to get back on the road. While traffic could remain volatile due to broader pandemic trends, the recovery so far has been positive for states that often rely on toll revenue to fund transportation infrastructure improvements.”
According to Doering, proactive steps states have taken to increase road usage included temporary moratoriums on toll charges, suspension of administrative and/or late fees, and the overall shift to cashless transactions.