Toll Industry COVID-19 Federal Stimulus Relief Effort

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Organization:

Delaware River Port Authority/Port Authority Transit Company

City:

Camden

State:

New Jersey

Organization Overview:

The Bi-state agency in the Philadelphia Metropolitan Region was created to provide transportation services and maintain transportation critical infrastructure. The Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) owns and operates four major bridge crossings over the Delaware River. These bridges provide a vital link in the region, providing safe and efficient passenger and truck freight trips freedom of movement between two Blue Star highways. The DRPA accepts no tax relief, rather it depends on tolls to provide world class transportation services for both the DRPA and PATCO.

The Port Authority Transit Company (PATCO) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the DRPA and provides direct transit service to and from Philadelphia and the South Jersey suburbs on a daily basis 24/7 hours a day.


Project Name:

Toll Industry COVID-19 Federal Stimulus Relief Effort
Project Type: 
Policy Analysis; Data Analysis

Project Overview:

Toll agencies everywhere in the country provide their regions or constituents with invaluable transportation facilities and services. But, the industry's greatest strength during normal operations, is now its greatest weakness. Toll agencies are routinely self sufficient. Hence the need and the placement of these agencies. But the COVID-19 pandemic has been anything but routine. As employees and students have stayed home to fight off the spread of this virus, toll revenues dropped significantly, in some case between 80-90%. Most agencies fund their capital programs through revenue bonds. These bonds have income covenants that require a certain percentage of income to debt. Even though agencies typically keep cash on hand, (for example, the DRPA that had over 700 days of cash on hand), the income ratio had fallen below the threshold. Most agencies would have to cut staff and services, and more importantly, capital projects. The latter is a dual edged issue as the regional economy would lose jobs at an alarming rate.

We would like a student to collect, analyze, and report data on toll industry Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The analysis could consider some or all of the following issues: 

1. The relationship between toll revenue and tax relief

2. The relationship between toll agency capital projects and jobs in the region

3. The real cost of deferring maintenance on major transportation facilities

4. The cost/benefit analysis of providing federal or other funds to the toll industry (Traffic is resuming, but not to COVID-19 levels)

The PATCO plans to provide the information gathered as part of this capstone to policymakers in Washington, particularly those in the senate and on transportation committees.

Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326
felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu