Speaking up for road users – our most significant and robust survey ever launches today on the new Transport Focus Data Hub
That well-known saying “what gets measured gets managed” is a routine reminder that any organisation must focus on improving things for their customers. This perspective applies in any sector or activity, whether tracking sales, footfall, complaints, or anything else for that matter. More to the point is just how far the opposite becomes apparent – often painfully – when what hasn’t been tracked or measured properly is missed and doesn’t get managed effectively.
This certainly applies to our roads network. The voice of the road user is a vital ingredient if those managing roads are to find out – and deliver – what these ‘customers’ need and want. It follows from this that measuring satisfaction is crucial if road managers are to grasp which key issues matter most to road users before using that insight to plan real, positive changes for the user.
Since 2015 Transport Focus has represented the interests of all who use motorways and major ‘A’ roads in England – the Strategic Road Network managed by Highways England. Since being given this expanded remit we’ve carried out many research studies (all available on our website) that have focused on a range of issues relevant to road users, not least their needs when caught up in disruption caused by incidents or roadworks, their views when using smart motorways, and that provocative old conker few drivers forget – road surface quality.
This is partly why we have spent time and effort developing a brand new Strategic Roads User Survey (SRUS) that we launched today at the Highways UK conference in Birmingham – our most significant and robust survey of road user opinion since we became involved in the sector.
SRUS is also the first new survey to be made available on the new www.transportfocus.org.uk/data-hub, a facility which also houses four years of data from our Bus Passenger Survey and will, by the end of next year, also host the satisfaction data we gather from rail and tram passengers as well as motorway service users.
SRUS is significantly more than just a replacement for the older national road users’ satisfaction survey that it replaces. It’s been built differently, gathers data from interviews with far more road users across the country, and will support more detailed analysis.
SRUS will allow data to be investigated in many different ways, depending on individual needs – for example by road, region, time of travel and category of road user. This ensures anyone from a fleet manager to a maintenance contractor or member of the public can go in via the online data hub to examine information from a range of perspectives. Overall satisfaction, journey time, management of roadworks, road surface quality, feelings about safety and driver information at both a national, regional or even specific road level will all be available at the touch of a button. Moreover, the longer the survey runs, the more data that accumulates, the more detailed a picture will become available right down to individual road level or which small but significant issue upsets drivers most.
By providing a more sophisticated means to access a wealth of data about road user satisfaction, we believe that Highways England and others will have a much clearer understanding of where they need to concentrate their efforts to meet the expectations and the needs of road users.
We also expect to see the key results generated by SRUS used to underpin the way the performance of Highways England is measured during the period of the second road investment strategy from 2020-2025.