News - 91 Express Lanes’ Strong Bond Rating Reflective of Successful Financials, Management

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91 Express Lanes’ Strong Bond Rating Reflective of Successful Financials, Management

AA- rating reaffirmed by S&P on OCTA-owned toll facility

ORANGE – The Orange County Transportation Authority’s long-established pattern of solid financial performance and strong governance have led Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings to reaffirm OCTA’s AA- rating for its 91 Express Lanes senior lien toll revenue bonds debt.

In reaffirming the rating with a stable outlook, S&P noted the 91 Express Lanes’ experienced management team, strong financials and continued traffic growth, particularly since extending the facility into Riverside County in 2017. In fiscal year 2019, 17.5 million vehicles drove through the 91 Express Lanes, up from 16.7 million in 2018 and 14.4 million 2017.

OCTA also has a demonstrated history of operating performance, consistently providing good conservative budgeting and accurate planning forecasts, according to S&P.

“I’m pleased that S&P has reaffirmed the 91 Express Lanes’ high bond rating, recognizing OCTA’s long and successful history of fiscal responsibility and strong leadership,” said OCTA Chairman Tim Shaw, also a La Habra Councilman.

The 91 Express Lanes is a four-lane toll road, with 10 miles in Orange County in the median of State Route 91, which is one of Southern California’s most heavily traveled freeways and a critical link between job centers in Orange County and housing in Riverside County.

An additional 8 miles of the 91 Express Lanes, operated by the Riverside County Transportation Commission, opened in March 2017.

“The 91 Express Lanes is a model for congestion-management pricing, providing an innovative option for the tens of thousands of drivers who are looking for a reliable free-flowing commute,” said OCTA CEO Darrell E. Johnson.

The 91 Express Lanes, which solely uses electronic tolling, was the first fully automated toll road in the world and the first in the United States to employ variable pricing. With two lanes in each direction, toll prices vary by hour, day of the week and direction of travel based on an OCTA policy that optimizes traffic at free-flow speeds.

Since OCTA purchased the 91 Express Lanes in January 2003, the objective has been to increase throughput, rather than maximizing revenue.

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