Page 1: Introduction
The strategic road network in England consists of motorways and major 'A' roads. It represents only 3% of all roads in England yet carries a third of all road traffic and two thirds of all heavy freight. The network is valued in excess of £84 billion and is vital for commerce and industry as well as day-to-day social activities. It connects towns and cities with ports and airports and is a key part of the transport infrastructure providing access to and from factories, shops, hospitals and services.
The Highways Agency was established in 1994. It is an executive agency of the Department for Transport and has responsibility for the operation of the strategic road network in England, within the context of the government's aim of a sustainable transport system which will support economic growth. The Agency's aim is: 'safe roads, reliable journeys, informed travellers'. Its functions include tackling congestion, providing accurate information for drivers and improving safety.
The task of maintaining and operating the strategic road network is challenging. Since the first motorway was opened 50 years ago, the volume of traffic has increased massively. Vehicle use has risen by more than 80% since 1980 and today's motorways carry more freight and passengers than was ever envisaged by planners.
The Highways Agency operates within a complex external environment. The government's transport policy sets the overall agenda, but several other external factors impact on the Agency's operations. PEST analysis is a useful tool to analyse these external forces and help inform future strategy and set priorities. This case study looks at the political, economic, social and technological factors that impact on the Highways Agency.