Toll revenue drop shows Floridians were staying home

Toll revenue between Feb. 29 and March 27 dropped 26 percent, causing the Turnpike to lose $28 million.
Florida's three proposed toll roads are not necessary, argues an environmentalist advocate.
Florida's three proposed toll roads are not necessary, argues an environmentalist advocate. [ FILE PHOTO ]
Published May 2, 2020|Updated May 2, 2020

TALLAHASSEE — Florida toll road revenue dropped sharply in March, another sign that Floridians were staying home in the weeks before Gov. Ron DeSantis issued his April 1 executive order.

From Feb. 29 to March 27, Florida’s Turnpike saw a nearly 20 percent drop in traffic volume from the same time last year, with each week dropping more than the last, according to Florida TaxWatch, an advocacy group.

On March 27, the day with the fewest traffic in the period, the tollways saw a 51 percent drop from the same day as the year before.

“This data show that, even without the statewide stay-at-home order not yet in place, there were half as many vehicles on the Turnpike as there were on the same date last year,” a Florida TaxWatch email said Saturday.

Traffic dropped slightly in the second week of March, then doubled from the third week of the month to the fourth. That week Florida saw a historic rise in unemployment claims, but counties didn’t start issuing stay-at-home orders until the fourth week of March.

Pinellas County’s stay-at-home order took effect March 26, the first county in Tampa Bay to do so. Miami-Dade County’s order also took effect on March 26, with Broward County’s order following on March 27. DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order on April 1. The governor’s order expires for all counties except Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach on Monday.

Toll traffic dropped 26 percent for the period, leading the Turnpike to lose $28 million for the period. Sunshine Skyway revenue dropped 30 percent in the period.

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