Fitch predicts ‘solid’ US transportation growth

In its latest report on transportation trends, the agency expects its ratings to remain stable across ports, airports and toll roads.

Ports, airports and toll roads will see healthy growth in 2017 despite long-term questions over economic, trade and fiscal policies, a report on transportation trends released today by Fitch Ratings predicts.

The report, which put the ratings effect at neutral across the board, noted that the three covered sectors saw growth in 2016 that outpaced GDP. “Moderate growth may be offset by increasing capital improvement spending needs across all sectors, coupled with potential increases in borrowing costs should the Federal Reserve adjust interest rates upwards,” the report continued.

Toll roads will see higher traffic levels this year with revenues rising faster “as many authorities implement policies of inflationary toll increases”, said Tanya Langman, a director for the ratings agency. Toll road traffic and revenue grew by 2.7 and 3.2 percent, respectively, in 2016, with the south-east and south-west regions leading the way.

On airports, Fitch expects growth rates of 2.5 to 3 percent, down slightly from a 3.5-percent increase in enplanements in 2016.

While uncertainties over trade agreements and the possibility of international tariffs may impact imports and exports, “the full effects of these changes will extend beyond 2017”, said Emma Griffith, director of ports for the ratings agency. Cargo growth is expected to line up with GDP growth in 2017, Fitch said.