Business Standard

Traffic on highways back to April level

- MEGHA MANCHANDA

Traffic on the national highways has jumped 30-35 per cent in June and reached the level of April. According to the recent data compiled by CRISIL, the onset of the second wave of the pandemic affected traffic in April and May whereas it was at greater than pre-pandemic levels, especially in the last quarter of FY21, as economic activities picked up, further backed by the implementa­tion of Fastags, the ratings agency said.

The downward trajectory began in April with the fear of rising Covid-19 cases and state-level lockdowns in Maharashtr­a, Chhattisga­rh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Delhi, etc.

Traffic in April on the national highways witnessed a 15 per cent decline to 160 million toll-paying vehicles against 190 million in March.

Sequential­ly, as new Covid19 cases peaked at over 400,000 a day in the first week of May, almost all states widened restrictio­ns and traffic took a further nosedive of 28 per cent in May, month-onmonth, to only 120 million vehicles paying toll.

However, restrictio­ns were less stringent this time than last year, when there was a nationwide lockdown, and industrial activities were allowed (in pockets).

New Covid-19 cases in June have moderated to an average of about 60,000 a day. Therefore, some states have eased restrictio­ns while some still hold on partially. CRISIL Research, however, estimates

that as the movement of people and goods picks up, traffic on national highways would grow by 30-35 per cent in June, recovering to 150-160 million vehicles, the same as April levels.

As a result, toll collection on national highways, which shrunk 10 per cent to ~2,777 crore in April and 23 per cent to ~2,125 crore in May from ~3,087 crore in March, would recuperate to ~2,400-2,600 crore in June, delivering 18-24 per cent growth on-month.

Toll collection on the national highways increased nine-fold last financial year.

When tolls were suspended in April 2020 for a fortnight, the amount stood at ~248 crore. That jumped to ~2,770 crore in April this year just when the second wave of the pandemic hit India. The momentum slowed in subsequent months and according to the latest figure for June, toll stands at ~2,500 crore.

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