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England’s best motorway service operators named

Extra and Westmorland have been rated England’s best motorway service operators by visitors in the independent transport user watchdog’s latest survey.

In the fourth annual survey Transport Focus asked almost 10,000 customers about their experience at all 112 motorway services in England, between February and March before the coronavirus lockdown. Visitors had their say on facilities such as toilets, staffing, food and drink.

Extra, operator of six sites in the survey and Westmorland, which operates four sites achieved the joint highest overall satisfaction score (97 per cent). Compared to last year’s survey, Extra saw a significant increase in satisfaction of eight percentage points to 97 per cent. Westmorland had the most ‘very satisfied’ visitors at 87 per cent.

Across the country as a whole, motorway service operators performed well with 93 per cent of visitors satisfied with their experience (an improvement on last year’s 90 per cent and the highest score since the survey started).

Visitors were least satisfied with the value for money of the food or drink they bought to eat in the services at 69 per cent. Those who drive for a living, which includes HGV drivers, were the least satisfied at 89 per cent, however, this has increased from 83 per cent in 2019.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:

“As the country emerges out of lockdown and people take to the roads for staycations this summer, motorway services will provide a vital opportunity for drivers to take a break on their journey.

“Motorway services provide customers with a great experience with friendly and helpful staff, but there is still room for improvement when it comes to the value for money of the food and drink on offer.”

Drivers were also asked what impact their visit to the motorway services had on their mood on arrival and when leaving the services. 27 per cent of visitors say they arrive feeling tired, frustrated or stressed. The visit to services significantly reduces visitors’ negative mood to just five per cent.

Euro Garages has the biggest year-on-year increase in satisfaction from 86 per cent to 96 per cent. All three of the larger operators saw an increase in satisfaction this year; Roadchef (up from 92 per cent to 95 per cent), Moto (up from 90 per cent to 93 per cent and Welcome Break (up from 90 per cent to 92 per cent).

Overall, the survey found:

  • 89 per cent of visitors were satisfied with the cleanliness of the toilets
  • 69 per cent of visitors thought the food or drink they bought to eat in the services was value for money
  • the friendliness and helpfulness of staff was rated good by 94 per cent of visitors buying food or drink to have in the services.

This year visitors were also asked how they thought the services they stopped at compared to others. Across the four Westmorland sites 94 per cent of visitors felt they were ‘better’ in comparison to other services they had visited. Euro Garages (two sites) and Extra (six sites) both had more than half of visitors describing these services as ‘better’ in comparison to others they had previously visited.

What visitors say:

“Good atmosphere, staff very friendly, everything is clean and tidy. Main thing is the staff are fabulous – they go out of their way to make you feel comfortable.” Leisure user

“Upgraded toilets are big improvement, clean and a lot better than it was.” Business user

“Somewhere to get a proper meal, not fast food, maybe even a separate cafe for HGV drivers.” Professional user

Notes to editors

DOWNLOAD REPORT: Motorway Services User Survey 2020

How motorway services performed:

Extra and Westmorland – 97%

Euro Garages – 96%

Roadchef – 95%

Moto – 93%

Welcome Break – 92%

Interviewing was cut short by Covid-19 at which point 9808 interviews had been completed. We were unable to complete the intended number and spread of interview shifts. Consequently, results at individual services are not sufficiently comparable on a like-for-like basis. Results for this year’s survey are therefore reported at sector, operator and visitor-type level only. These factors should be kept in mind when comparing results to previous years.

Interviews
Transport Focus’s spokespeople will be available for pre-records and for live to air interviews.

For further information please contact: Kieran Watkins, senior communications officer, Tel: 0300 123 0836 or email: kieran.watkins@transportfocus.org.uk

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