Following the 2011 publication of the Cook Report (Cook, 2011) which examined the English highway network in terms of its effective management, value for money and level of innovation, the government set about a programme of regulatory reform (Department for Transport - DfT, 2012). The programme examined the management of the Strategic Road Network and re-visited its strategic objectives, and how performance against those objectives might be monitored and regulated. The reform process culminated in the Roads Investment Strategy (RIS), which set out strategic long-run objectives until 2021 and an initial funding plan for the first five-year period (DfT, 2014), and Royal Assent being given to the Infrastructure Act 2015. The Act provided the underpinning legislation for transfer of the SRN from the government Highways Agency to the independent public company Highways England. As part of the new regulatory arrangements for Highways England, the independent transport system user ‘watchdog’ Transport Focus had its remit extended by the Act, from a focus hitherto on public transport users also to include people that use the SRN.
In order to support its statutory monitoring role, Transport Focus has responsibility for a new road user satisfaction survey (New RUSS). The primary role of the New RUSS is benchmarking and evaluating the performance of Highways England in terms of the perceptions of its customers, but also, where feasible within the constraints of a single survey instrument, it will collect data which will help understand travellers’1 experiences of using the SRN, and inform the maintenance and development of the network.