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Transport User Voice – November 2016 – Putting road users first

26 October 2016

Much of Transport Focus’s work is about encouraging transport businesses to put the interests of their ‘customers’ first.

At the Highways Management conference in September, Guy Dangerfield, Head of Transport User Strategy, explored what this really means when it comes to England’s strategic roads – the motorways and major ‘A’ roads.

Putting the road user first, as a principle, applies to many aspects of planning, operating and maintaining the Highways England network.

It covers making sure that what road users want is at the heart of investment plans, whether they drive vehicles, run haulage or coach businesses, or walk or cycle on or across major ‘A’ roads.

This includes the way roadworks are planned to minimise the impact on those who use the road concerned – and much more besides.

Three areas of focus

  • Highways England is a monopoly supplier of fast long-distance road journeys – but it should actively guard against behaving like a monopoly. Getting ‘being on customers side’ into the culture of a necessarily engineering-dominated organisation is vital to counter the natural behaviour of a monopoly.
  • When it comes to renewing road surfaces, Highways England must balance the desire to achieve maximum ‘asset life’ with the quality that road users experience in the final years before resurfacing takes place.
  • Highways England needs to become much more agile when it comes to maintenance, vegetation control or replacing signs and lights that inevitably get pranged or demolished. What do the customers want should be the question, not what does the standards manual or the contract with the maintainer says. At the moment there often seems to be a disconnect between impact on customers and speed of response.

Transport Focus will continue to encourage Highways England to work hard to put the road user first in all its work.

 

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