Highways England falling short of user satisfaction target

Highways England has fallen short of key targets for road user satisfaction, according to results of the latest survey by the road and rail user watchdog Transport Focus.

The survey shows Highways England is scoring highly, but starting to lose the battle for goodwill from motorists as its circa £12bn five-year programme of road improvements starts to pick up pace.

According to Transport Focus, satisfaction with motorway journeys is at 88%, below the 90% target, while measures of motorists satisfaction with journey time and roadworks have fallen over the past year. This is despite Highways England's efforts to up its game over communication with drivers in and approaching its road widening and improvement projects.

The chief executive of Transport Focus, Anthony Smith, said: “Overall satisfaction with motorways and major A-roads is relatively high at 89%, but still just below the 90% target. Satisfaction with motorway journeys at 88% pulls the overall score down.

“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."

The key message from road users surveyed is that they perceive a lack of urgency to complete roadworks, seeing miles of cones and lane restrictions without anyone working, Anthony Smith said.  This echos Transport Focus' previous research on incidents and roadworks.

Highways England is now just over two years into its first five-year roads investment strategy, which will see the government owned company carrying out around £12bn of road improvements. Highways England has defended its record on improving road users' experience. Initiatives launched over the past two years include the piloting of more humanised road signs and display of journey time information on variable message signs.

Jim O’Sullivan, HE's chief executive, said: “We value the Transport Focus report and will combine that with our own insights to improve road users’ experiences on England’s motorways and strategic A-roads. Our planning for every investment puts customers at the heart of our work to ensure journeys on our roads are safe and reliable.”


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