Toll company aims to balance traffic, revenue


by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News & Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

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Posted on April 8, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Updated Monday, Apr 8 at 11:41 AM

AUSTIN -- Efforts are underway to boost traffic along some Austin-area toll roads.

A week ago toll rates dropped for truckers along State Highway 130 in an effort to entice truckers to take the toll road through the Austin area.
Officials at the SH-130 Concession Company monitor and operate a section of the toll road. They say the company is relying on a boost.
Last month a credit report from a group called Moody's Investors Service showed a grim glimpse at the reality of traffic along SH-130. According to Moody’s report, traffic levels are approximately 50 percent below original projections that were released in 2008.
The toll road was designed as a quick pass through to help drivers avoid the back ups of I-35. However drivers, in particular truckers, complained that it costs too much. That's one reason the SH-130 Concession Company wanted to lower rates. Company officials are hopeful that low rates will bring extra traffic and that the extra traffic will in turn balance out any lost revenue.
“It is a challenge to balance traffic and revenue, and it's something that we take into very serious consideration. One of the things that we take into consideration right now is the road is only five months old, so increasing awareness of the road it makes sense to say 'come out, give us a try and do it at a 75 percent discount if you're a trucker,'” explained Chris Lippincott, spokesperson for SH 130 Concession Company.  
Truckers now pay the same price as passenger vehicles. Lippincott says it remains undetermined how much the change is helping. The pilot program is expected to last through March of next year.
According to the Moody’s investors report, the toll company has a couple of months to show an improvement in revenue or risk a drop in their credit rating.
Although Lippincott says traffic is up, he couldn’t provide specific revenue or travel data. Lippincott says the data is protected under FCC regulations and will come out in reports released by investors.