Making Better Use of the Road Network (MBURN)

Making Better Use of the Road Network (MBURN)


P Le Masurier, MVA Consultancy, UK


The paper will present outcomes of Making Better use of the Road Network, a research programme to understand motorists' priorities/concerns and identify government interventions to manage future demand for the road network.


Demand for road-based transport is forecast to increase and without intervention the increased demand will place additional stress on the network. In response to this increasing demand, the Government is investing in new capacity and improved the ways to manage travel demand. However, more needs to be done to ensure that the motorist and society as a whole obtain the greatest value from investment.
No matter how well policy interventions are technically conceived, their relative success will be linked to whether or not they enjoy public support. Sophisticated programmes to understand and encourage acceptance are required to raise awareness, prepare people for behavioural change and stimulate compliance through incentives, pricing and regulation.
However, Phase 1 of the MBURN (making better use of the road network) research, commissioned by the Department for Transport, and undertaken by eminent researchers, found that little is known about the relationship between motorists' attitudes and behaviour, and how information about the performance of the network and improvements in network quality might induce behavioural change. Furthermore, we understand little about motorists' willingness to make sacrifices in order to obtain an improved journey experience. Without this insight, it is difficult to confidently initiate new policies to help manage travel demand.

Objectives of the MBURN Exploratory Research:
The MBURN exploratory research has built a knowledge-base to provide that insight. More specifically, it provides information on how motorists think about the road network and how acceptable they find possible interventions.
Deliberative Focus Groups and depth interviews were undertaken with motorists across the UK to explore their perceptions and priorities for the road network. Using travel diaries, the initial research explored the links between motorists' experience and how they conceptualise their journeys. The qualitative research also led to the identification of a set of road network Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that would enable motorists to make informed travel decisions.
As well as defining motorists' KPI criteria, the qualitative research findings helped shape a subsequent quantitative piloting phase. This was undertaken with over 100 motorists.

The Paper will:

- provide an overview of motorists and their profiles in terms of social demographics, car usage and network coverage, and confirmation of information/communication channels used/aware of;
- identify which road KPIs mattered most to motorists - in terms of monitored metrics by which the authorities can demonstrate road performance in time; and publicly available information on aspects of road performance by link and route and time of day/week to enable motorists to make informed decisions to avoid congestion;
- insight into those government interventions which the majority of motorists support including motorway and non-motorway interventions (e.g. from building motorway toll-roads to more localised improvements such walk and cycle schemes and/or encouraging lifestyle changes); and
- conclusions indicating ways of making best use of the existing road network to reduce traffic congestion in the future that have motorists' support.


Association for European Transport