New ATRI research explores who pays and who benefits from toll system revenue

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toll revenue research 2
toll revenue research 2
The American Transportation Research Institute found that the 21 major toll systems analyzed for the study collected more than $14.7 billion in revenue with nearly 50% of toll revenue diverted to other uses. (Courtesy: iStock)

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has released new research that documents the collection and distribution of $14.7 billion in U.S. toll revenue, representing 82% of U.S. toll collections. The research sheds light on many questions about tolling, including how much toll revenue is generated versus reinvested in toll facilities, and contrasts truck-generated toll revenue versus truck utilization of toll roads.
This study was identified as the top research priority for the industry by ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee in 2019.
To better understand tolling, researchers collected public financial data from Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) published by toll systems and attempted to standardize financial comparisons across systems. Key metrics included toll facility charges by user type, toll facility expenditures and toll revenue diversion to non-toll entities.
ATRI’s research found that the 21 major toll systems analyzed collected more than $14.7 billion in revenue with nearly 50% of toll revenue diverted to other uses. In addition, toll revenue increased more than 72 percent over the last decade compared to inflation growth of just 16.9%.
The report includes a first-of-its-kind data analysis to better understand the relationship between interstate commerce and toll road utilization. Through an analysis of truck GPS data, the researchers were able to quantify toll revenue impacts on local truck activity versus interstate commerce.
“It is clear from this research that highway funding mechanisms that return our tax investments to highways are far superior to tolling,” said Darren Hawkins, YRC Worldwide chief executive officer. “We need greater oversight and transparency to ensure that the billions of dollars paid by our industry goes back into the roads and bridges that generate the revenue.”
To access the full report, visit TruckingResearch.org.

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