Kathy Liebler
                        Director of Public Information

C   O   M   M   I   S   S   I   O   N                N   E   W   S             R   E   L   E   A   S   E   

  Contact: Carl DeFebo, (717) 939-9551 Ext. # 2934  

February 2, 2000


Harrisburg, PA. — Thanks largely to an 8-percent boost in commercial traffic volume, the Pennsylvania Turnpike realized record six-month revenue of $201.5 million in the first half of its 1999-2000 fiscal year that ended Nov. 30, 1999. The achievement represents the first time in its 60-year history that the Turnpike’s income was more than $200 million in a single half year.

Commercial traffic — comprised mostly of trucks from large national haulers — grew by 800,000 vehicles over the first half of 1998-99, resulting in a commercial-revenue increase of more than 9 percent. Net commercial vehicle revenue for the first half was $88 million — about 45 percent of total six-month income.

"These results can be tied directly to a strong economy," Executive Director John Durbin said. "With their confidence lifted, consumers and corporations are spending more; and healthier sales mean more merchandise must be shipped out to restock the shelves.

"As long as the economy maintains its present course, we anticipate that the increase in commercial vehicles on the Turnpike will be an enduring trend," Durbin added.

Passenger traffic on the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s 506 miles of roadway grew in the first half by nearly 700,000 vehicles — a 1-percent increase over the previous first-half’s volumes. Passenger-vehicle income for the period, which totaled more than $107 million, accounted for roughly 55 percent of first-half revenues.

Total revenue of $201.6 million for the period represents a 5.1 percent increase over the year-ago half.

In addition to the commercial traffic upsurge, Deputy Executive Director of Finance and Administration J. Blair Fishburn also pointed to "conscientious" business and financial-management practices as the stimulus behind the prosperous first half.

"Coupled with revenue growth, prudent expense management was another factor that helped create such a robust period," Fishburn said. "Because of this, we were able to hold spending to under 2 percent growth compared to last year."

As a result, the Turnpike achieved gross profits for the period of $122.6 million — 61 percent of total revenue.

Fishburn also said that interest income continued to benefit from improvements in the Turnpike’s two-year old investment program. "Interest income was up $852,000 — or nearly 13 percent — over the previous year’s first half," he said.

The Turnpike’s ability to restrict spending while increasing both revenue and interest income led to notable first-half net earnings. "Our net earnings exceeded a record $130 million for the six-month timeframe," Fishburn said. "That’s an improvement of approximately $9.3 million — or about 8 percent — year to year."

Fishburn added that an impressive net-earnings margin of 65 percent was bolstered by the sharp rise in interest income. "Higher market rates and longer investment durations resulted in our interest income contributing 4 percentage points of margin improvement to our gross profit margin of 61 percent," Fishburn said. "To look at it another way, these financial results mean we’re able to direct 65 cents of every revenue dollar toward maintaining and improving the Turnpike."

Durbin continued, "the net earnings help fund vital capital projects across the entire system, including the rebuilding and repaving of aging roadway sections and bridges to provide our customers with the highest quality roadway and ensure a safe, enjoyable travelling experience.

"Moreover, the net earnings will help subsidize the installation of E-ZPass — or electronic toll collection — at interchanges in southcentral and southeastern Pennsylvania."

Durbin noted that the Turnpike anticipates the E-ZPass system will be operational for passenger vehicles at Interchanges 18 (Harrisburg West) through 33 (Lehigh Valley) this fall.


 P.O. Box 67676, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7676         Phone: (717) 939-9551         Fax: (717) 986-9649