Friday, December 23, 2005

Bad news for the Toll Road Lobby; Texas Travel Volumes Decline


Bad news for the Toll Road Lobby:
Texas Travel Volumes Decline




U. S. Department of Transportation; Federal Highway Administration
TRAFFIC VOLUME TRENDS; Office of Highway Policy Information

The trend is clearly down due to soaring fuel costs, with total travel on all roads and streets in the USA shrinking 1.6% in Oct. 2005, as compared to Oct. 2004.

Travel normally varies seasonally, with a vacation travel peak in July. A strong slowdown travel on US urban highways (the roads most linked to suburban sprawl) is evident from the numbers from 2003-2005 on figure 2. US urban highway travel jumped sharply from 2003 to 2004, but this trend decelerated sharply from 2004 to 2005.

TxDOT’s planning has in recent years been heavily based on leveraging debt. The reliability of these ever-increasing traffic volumes is used to generate toll road revenues. These revenue projections are shown to Wall Street, thus effectively being used as collateral to borrow money to build more toll roads to handle even more projected traffic, etc.

The travel volume in Mississippi and Louisiana clearly increased from 2004 to 2005 due to the hurricanes. But for such hurricane-related stimulation of travel, the numbers in Texas in recent months likely would have decreased more.

These are the raw numbers (Sept.‘05 is revised but not yet Oct.’05).

All roads in Texas:

Sept. ‘03 to Sept. ‘04 +1.0
Oct. ‘03 to Oct. ‘04 -0.6

Sept. ‘04 to Sept. ‘05 -1.0
Oct. ‘04 to Oct. ‘05 +0.1

Rural arterials in Texas:

Sept. ‘03 to Sept. ‘04 +1.4
Oct. ‘03 to Oct. ‘04 +0.2

Sept. ‘04 to Sept. ‘05 -2.5
Oct. ‘04 to Oct. ‘05 -0.7

Urban arterials in Texas:

Sept. ‘03 to Sept. ‘04 +1.0
Oct. ‘03 to Oct. ‘04 -0.8

Sept. ‘04 to Sept. ‘05 +0.0
Oct. ‘04 to Oct. ‘05 +1.3

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