Transport User Voice – Road users want more reliable journey times

31 July 2017

As we further added to our suite of user satisfaction surveys, we found that users of England’s motorways and major ‘A’ roads are least happy with the reliability of their journey time and the management of roadworks. This latest survey of 2000 road users – the National Road Users’ Satisfaction Survey – measures their satisfaction with this road network managed by Highways England.

In fact, overall satisfaction with motorways and major ‘A’ roads is relatively high at 89.1 per cent. However, it is just below the 90 per cent performance target for Highways England. Satisfaction with motorway journeys at 88 per cent pulls the overall score down.

As with our other satisfaction surveys, these results provide pointers to Highways England about where they should focus effort to improve road users’ satisfaction. Delivering satisfactory journey times and managing roadworks effectively on motorways are among the weaker areas within the survey.

Users want journey times that are predictable. Delays, caused by roadworks, congestion and accidents can undermine that. Satisfaction with journey time on motorways has decreased in the last six years, no doubt increasing traffic levels and roadworks to deliver extra capacity have played a part.

When it comes to satisfaction with roadworks on motorways, the key message from users is that they perceive a lack of urgency to complete roadworks, seeing miles of cones without anyone working. These findings echo our previous research incidents and roadworks.

Key results for all aspects of satisfaction:

  • Overall satisfaction by type of road: motorways are 88.1 per cent and major ‘A’ roads at 90.3 per cent, giving an overall total of 89.1 per cent.
  • Overall satisfaction by region: overall satisfaction by Highways England region was the highest in the East and South West (both at 91 per cent) and the lowest in the North West (83 per cent)
  • Journey time: 87 per cent – down from 88 per cent last year. This was due to the decrease in satisfaction on motorways as a result of roadworks, congestion and accidents.
  • Roadworks: 63 per cent – a drop from 65 per cent last year. This has fallen from a high of 72 per cent in 2013-14. This is lower for motorways at 61 per cent than for major ‘A’ roads at 68 per cent. The reasons identified are perceived lack of urgency in completing the roadworks and poor information.
  • Signage: 93 per cent – an increase from the previous year. The small level of dissatisfaction is due to inaccurate variable message signs and other signs being difficult to read or confusing.
  • Upkeep: 90 per cent. Motorways fare slightly better than major ‘A’ roads (91 and 88 per cent). Dissatisfaction results from noisy and poor surfaces, including potholes, and debris.
  • Users ‘feeling safe’: 92 per cent. This has remained fairly steady over recent years, but lower than earlier highest scores of 94 per cent (2011-12 and 2012-14). Key factors contributing to ‘feeling safe’ are being confident in driving. Detracting from ‘feeling safe’ are poor lighting, poor surfaces and bad weather, and other users’ poor driving.

Transport Focus has just taken over this survey and is currently developing a survey that will be known as the Strategic Road Users Satisfaction Survey. Having piloted the survey this year it will launch in 2018.

Click here to see the full results.

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