Transport User Voice – March 2019 – Measuring how the road network performs

27 February 2019

What do users want to see?

Transport Focus is working hard to help shape investment plans for the Strategic Road Network for the next period, from 2020.

It is vital that these plans are closely focused on user priorities, and that Highways England can be held to account for delivering what Government proceeds to buy on behalf of road users.

In 2017 Transport Focus already researched user views about what aspects of performance mattered most to them. Now, on the back of an emerging ‘performance specification’ for the Strategic Road Network for 2020-25, Transport Focus has returned to this agenda, working as in the first phase with the highways monitor the Office of Rail and Road.

This time around, Transport Focus has explored whether the key elements of this specification make sense to users, and where it may be most appropriate to attach targets to this specification.

In particular, Transport Focus put to the users taking part in this latest research six possible ‘outcome areas’ that might be tracked, and a range of specific measures within each of theseThe results of this research have been published today. These show there was much agreement, across all types of road user, that the outcome areas were the right ones, but priorities varied based on individual needs. Of the six, ‘safety’ and ‘a well-maintained network’ were consistently given the highest priority, closely followed by ‘fast and reliable journeys’, and then ‘meeting all users’ needs’. Participants in the research attached rather less importance to ‘efficient delivery’ and to ‘environment’.

In addition, Transport Focus found that users want to see targets set for several specific measures, spread across all six areas. Examples included – alongside ‘number of casualties’ and ‘road condition’ – a target for ‘effective operation of smart motorways’ and ‘accuracy and timeliness of roadworks information’. Road users also highlighted what affects them most personally: measures around environmental responsibility mattered more for cyclists and pedestrians than they did for drivers.

Transport Focus has shared the findings of the research with the Department for Transport and Highways England. It is already informing their thinking, as they continue work to finalise the new Road Investment Strategy by the end of this year. 

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