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DELAWARE RIVER PORT AUTH. v. TIEMANN

October 1, 1976

DELAWARE RIVER PORT AUTHORITY, Plaintiff,
v.
Norbert T. TIEMANN, as Administrator, Federal Highway Administration, and William T. Coleman, Jr., as Secretary, United States Department of Transportation, Defendants, and City of Philadelphia, Defendant-Intervenor



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BROTMAN

This case involves the continuing review of a determination by the Federal Highway Administrator (hereinafter 'Administrator') on May 19, 1975 reducing tolls on bridges owned and operated by the Delaware River Port Authority (hereinafter 'Authority' or 'DRPA'). See Delaware River Port Authority v. Tiemann, 403 F.Supp. 1117, 1120-23 (D.N.J.1975), vacated 531 F.2d 699 (3rd Cir. 1976). This court upheld the Administrator and on November 12, 1975 entered an order granting Summary Judgment for the Defendants, Norbert T. Tiemann, Administrator, Federal Highway Administration, and William T. Coleman, Jr., Secretary, United States Department of Transportation, and the Intervenor, City of Philadelphia. Delaware River Port Authority v. Tiemann, supra. The Administrator's toll schedule took effect December 1, 1975. 403 F.Supp. at 1144.

The Court of Appeals vacated, instructing this court to retain jurisdiction, but remand the action to the Administrator 'so that he may supplement his opinion by making specific and itemized findings on this record as to the Authority's post-coverage expenses and its ability to meet these expenses on the basis of the revenue derived from the Administrator's toll schedule.' 531 F.2d at 702. *fn1" Pending the Administrator's reconsideration, the Court of Appeals directed that the present toll schedule remain in effect. Id. The Administrator issued an Opinion and Order on May 7, 1976 setting forth his supplemental Findings (hereinafter 'Findings'). The Administrator's Findings with respect to post-coverage expenses are summarized at Appendix F-A of his Findings: APPENDIX F-A n2 ESTIMATED DEBT SERVICE COVERAGE (In thousands of dollars) 1975 1976 1977 1978 1. Gross Tolls 32,449 35,119 36,277 36,705 2. Less Disc. - 790 - 842 - 878 - 875 31,659 34,277 35,409 35,830 3. M & O Exp. -10,256 -13,773 -14,599 -15,476 4. Adm. Exp. - 2,088 - 2,234 - 2,369 - 2,511 19,315 18,270 18,441 17,843 5. Invest. Income 3,898 3,790 3,682 3,466 6. Net Income 23,213 22,060 22,123 21,309 7. Debt Service Req. Rev. Bonds 16,769 16,769 16,769 16,769 8. Debt Service Coverage 1.38 1.32 1.32 1.27 9. Special Rev. Bonds Req. 1.0 Coverage 3,099 2,502 2,903 2,365 10. Total Debt Service Requirements 19,868 19,271 19,672 19,134 11. Total Debt Service Coverage 1.16 1.14 1.12 1.11 Post Coverage Exp. 12. PATCO Opt. Def. 148 1,027 723 533 13. World Trade Div. 1,364 1,200 14. Cap. Budget Exp. 1,470 15. TOTAL 2,982 2,227 723 533 16. Total Activities Cost 22,850 21,498 20,375 19,667 17. Net Income 23,213 22,060 22,123 21,309 18. Total Activity 1.02 1.03 1.08 1.08 [Administrator's Explanatory Notes to Appendix F-A]

Lines 1-8, 10, & 11 are identical with Appendix F of Administrator's May 19, 1975 opinion. Line 9 was added to indicate amount of debt service requirement of the Special Revenue Bonds.

 Line 12. Figures based on comparing revenue and expenses in Exhibit 136, p. 21.

 Line 13. 1975 Figure based on Exhibit 139, DRPA Budget. The budget was rejected by the Administrator as unreliable in issuing the May 19 Order, affirmed by the District Court, 403 F. Supp. at 1131. 1976 Figure based on budget of the World Trade Division Exhibit 114, DPRA General Fund Payments.

 Line 14. Figure in 1975 DRPA budget Exhibit 139. The budget was rejected by the Administrator as unreliable in his May 19, 1975 Order, affirmed 403 F. Supp. at 1131.

 Line 15. Figure arrived at by adding lines 12, 13 and 14.

 Line 16. Figure arrived at by adding lines 10 and 15.

 Line 17. Repeat of line 6 for the purpose of illustration.

 Line 18. Ratio of line 17 to line 16.

  This court must determine whether the Administrator's supplemental findings concerning post-coverage expenses are supported by substantial evidence and are the product of reasoned decision-making. 403 F.Supp. at 1126-29. *fn3" Included within the term post-coverage expenses are: PATCO (highspeed rail commuter line) deficits, expenses of the World Trade Division, capital budget expenditures and litigated damage claims. 531 F.2d at 701. The Administrator's toll schedule may be affirmed only if it will sustain the Authority's 'total activities.' Id. At bottom, this court's review must concern itself with the validity of the Administrator's projections or non-projections, as the case may be, found at lines 12-14 of Appendix F-A. *fn4" Also involved is the Administrator's determination that litigated damage claims are not legitimate post-coverage expenses such as would warrant their inclusion in Appendix F-A. For the reasons to be developed, the Administrator's supplemental findings with respect to post-coverage expenses must be sustained.

 PATCO DEFICITS

 The Administrator projects PATCO operating deficits in the amounts of $ 148,000 in 1975, $ 1,027,000 in 1976, $ 723,000 in 1977 and $ 533,000 in 1978. Appendix F-A, line 12. *fn5" Concerning PATCO deficits, the DRPA candidly represents that it is attempting to curtail these deficits through fare adjustments in 1976. *fn6" Effective June 2, 1976 increased passenger fares went into effect on the highspeed line. *fn7"

 The fare increase is not a matter of record. Consequently no valid projections can be made measuring the extent to which PATCO's operating deficits may be reduced by the increased fares. Accordingly, for the purposes of this ...


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