Toll roads operator Transurban collected more than $1 billion in tolls in six months as traffic surged on its Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane motorways, driving a 42 per cent jump in its half year net profit.
Chief executive Scott Charlton said a rise in the number of vehicles on Transurban's roads in the six months to December reflected the company's investments in improving the network's efficiency, and the experience for customers.
Tolls for trucks also continue to rise at a faster rate than car tolls, though Mr Charlton said toll increases are set by governments, not Transurban.
"Our operating performance has been better than we forecast at the beginning of the year, which has given the board confidence to increase the distribution guidance," Mr Charlton said.
Transurban now expects to pay a distribution of 51.5 cents per security over the 2016/17 financial, up 13 per cent from the previous year.
Transurban securities gained 66 cents, or 6.4 per cent, to a four-month high of $11.04.
Toll revenue in Sydney, where Transurban owns the M2, Lane Cove Tunnel and Cross City Tunnel and has stakes in the M5, M7 and Eastern Distributor, jumped 8.8 per cent from a year ago to $434 million.
Average daily traffic in Sydney was up 3.4 per cent to 648,000 trips, despite the impact on the M2 of construction of NorthConnex.
Toll revenue from Melbourne's CityLink climbed 2.7 per cent to $340 million, despite a drop of 0.7 per cent in average daily trips to 828,000, amid disruptions caused by the CityLink Tulla widening project.
In Brisbane, toll revenue surged 31.6 per cent to $193 million, as the AirportlinkM7 was added to Transurban's network, and revenue was up 7.8 per cent on its other roads, which include the Gateway Motorway, Logan Motorway and Clem7.
Average daily traffic in Brisbane was up 19.4 per cent to 395,000 trips.
TRAFFIC AND TOLL GROWTH DELIVERS FOR TRANSURBAN
- Half year net profit up 41.9pct to $88m
- Revenue up 26.3pct cent to $1.3bn
- Interim distribution up 2.5 cents to 25 cents, partially franked