(Australian Associated Press)
Toll road operator Transurban says Australian motorists are not paying too much to use its roads.
Transurban on Tuesday reported that its share of toll revenue from its roads across Australia and the United States had increased by 10.6 per cent to $2.1 billion for 2016/17, as average daily traffic grew by four per cent.
Transurban operates tollways including CityLink in Melbourne; Hills M2, Westlink M7, Lane Cove Tunnel, and M5 South West Motorway in Sydney; and the Gateway and Logan motorways in Brisbane.
Transurban chief executive Scott Charlton said 54 per cent of Transurban customers pay tolls of less than $10 per month and 93 per cent pay less than $100 per month while only 0.3 per cent – mostly commercial operators – pay more than $500 a month.
Mr Charlton said there a misconception that every driver uses a toll road every day and travels around the networks collecting tolls, whereas most people used toll roads when they need to save time.
“We’re trying to provide customers with more technology and information so that they can make informed choices – whether the time savings and the reliability that the roads are offering are worth it for them,” Mr Charlton said on Tuesday.
“If you look in the the context of Australia versus some of the European and US comparators, Australia is not an over-tolled environment.”
Mr Charlton said Transurban is trying to improve its engagement with customers.
For example, the company had helped save Brisbane motorists $100 million in state-imposed fines by informing them if there was an issue with their car registration, their tolling tag or their account.
Mr Charlton said it was not in Transurban’s interests if motorists lost their licence.
Transurban’s reported net profit for the 12 months to June 30 rose to $239 million. from $99 million a year earlier, when the result was weighed down by one-off costs of $126 million mostly related to the acquisition of the AirportlinkM7 in Queensland.
The company’s preferred assessment measure of its operating performance – proportional earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), and before significant items – rose 10.1 per cent to $1.6 billion.
Proportional EBITDA is the aggregation of EBITDA from each of the group’s assets multiplied by Transurban’s percentage ownership, plus the contribution from central group functions.
Transurban expects to pay unit-holders a distribution of 56 cents per security in the 2017/18 financial year, implying growth of 8.7 per cent.
Transurban securities were 34 cents, or 2.9 per cent, lower at $11.60 at 1250 AEST.
TRANSURBAN LIFTS FY PROFIT
* Statutory annual net profit up 141.4pct to $239m
* Revenue up 23.6pct to $2.7b
* Proportional EBITDA before significant items up 10.1pct to $1.6b
* Final distribution of 26.5 cents, fully franked, up from 23 cents.