Measuring road user satisfaction

28 September 2015

Under the government’s Roads Reform programme, Transport Focus has a key role in measuring satisfaction among users of Highways England’s network. This requires a new user satisfaction ‘tracker’ survey which, among other things, will be used by the Office of Rail and Road to monitor Highways England’s progress in delivering what the Department for Transport wants.

This Road User Voice explains how Transport Focus intends to deliver the new survey, covering what we have done so far and our next steps.

Early on in the process, Transport Focus commissioned independent advice from The Centre for Transport and Society at the University of the West of England. Its report will be published shortly, but in essence recommends that we seek to deliver a significantly larger, more representative, sample size than the existing survey.

Although an obvious point, a key issue with this survey is that unlike our rail, bus and tram satisfaction ‘tracker’ surveys, we can’t hand a form to drivers while they are driving.

The report therefore recommends that the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) database is used to get in touch with a representative sample of road users, who Transport Focus would then invite to complete a short online questionnaire about satisfaction with their last Strategic Road Network journey. It is worth noting that this would not involve data passing from DVLA to Transport Focus – licence holders would be invited to register to participate in our research if they wished.

So where have we got to in the process? First, Transport Focus has accepted the recommendations in the independent report as the basis on which we should develop the survey.

The key points to mention are that discussions with DVLA are well advanced about how things would work. We are about to carry out a series of pilots to test aspects of how the new survey will work. For example: testing out wording on the DVLA letter to produce the most responses; what length of questionnaire works best; whether incentives will be required; and of course making sure the questions themselves work. This design and testing work will run from October 2015 to March 2016, with a working assumption that the new survey will start in October 2016.

Clearly, it is important to keep measuring road user satisfaction in the meantime, so the existing National Road User Satisfaction Survey (NRUSS) carried out by Highways England/the Highways Agency for some years will transfer to Transport Focus in April 2016. After a period of dual-running with the new survey, the length of which is still to be determined, the current NRUSS will be discontinued.

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