Motorists´evaluation of road maintenance management

Abstract: The road network is extremely valuable. Road Administrationsare expected to invest maintenance funding in a way thatreturns maximum benefit to road users. Cost-benefit analysis isone method to ensure that an adequate return in terms ofbenefits results from committing expenditure. Today,cost-benefit calculations are frequently used as a base fordecision making of investments. The surges for such methods inthe maintenance management sector are increasing.Up to the present, one reason for not analysing costs andbenefits for various maintenance management measures has beenthe lack of knowledge about comfort benefits for road users inquantitative monetary terms. The aim with this thesis is toinvestigate motorists’apprehension of pavementmaintenance management and winter maintenance operations. Thefinal goal is to find out their willingness to pay fordifferent levels of road maintenance management. Those valuescan later be used in cost-benefit calculations and also ineffect models of road maintenance management.Due to the pioneer status of this study, focus groups andin-depth interviews as well as a number of pilot studies havebeen carried out before a main survey with stated choiceexperiments could be designed. These exploratory studies showedthat the interviewees were familiar with the types of roadsurface damage that exist and in many cases mastered the sameterminology as the Road Administration and others. Showingpictures of well-known types of road damage lead to highermonetary valuations of getting better road standard incomparison with just text descriptions. One reason for thatcould be the requisite severness of the damage in order toillustrate a certain road maintenance shortage. The respondentswith the text descriptions could have stated their preferencesfor an, in their own minds, average shortcoming while the groupwith access to photograph of road damage all saw the samesevere damage. Illustrations of different road maintenancestandards make it possible to control the respondentsinterpretation of the maintenance management standard valuatedbut could lead to high monetary estimations.Driving comfort was very important to the interviewees inthe exploratory studies. That was manifested in the pilotstated choice surveys, which resulted in high willingness topay for better pavement management.The main study consisted of two surveys; the first one wasabout pavement maintenance management and was carried out inOctober to November 2000 and the second one took place inFebruary to March 2001 and was about winter maintenanceoperations. Both the pavement and the winter survey includedattitude questions and two stated choice experiments. Theresult showed that the maintenance management status of theroad network was important to car users. For example, the worstpavement damage was roughness; the motorists were willing topay 1.7 SEK (Swedish Crowns) per kilometre to avoid roadsdamaged in their full length. The least harmful damage of thosestudied was cracks; the willingness to pay to avoid that was0.5 SEK per kilometre. For more rapid snow clearance, the carusers were willing to pay 60 to 80 SEK per year for getting theroads cleared from snow one hour earlier than the currentstandard implies. The willingness to pay for driving on bareroads in comparison with snow roads was 0.4 SEK per kilometre.Statistical tests on the models showed that the parametervalueswere well estimated.In the pavement as well as in the winter survey, a clustergroup analysis was performed in order to test the heterogeneityof attitudes and behaviour to road maintenance management. Theanalysis resulted in two separate groups in each survey. Onegroup consisted of drivers who reported to be very influencedby the level of maintenance management regarding chosen speed,joy of driving and so on. The other group reported to be lessinfluenced and had lower acceptance of higher road tax for thepurpose to increase the maintenance management standard.Separate stated choice models revealed that the differences inattitudes could also reflect the respondents’willingnessto pay for higher road maintenance standard. However, thedifferences were only small and the different groups’monetary valuations were not found to be significantlydifferent from each other.The result of this study, better knowledge aboutmotorists’apprehension of maintenance management, theirattitudes to driving comfort and road standard and theirmonetary valuations of different levels of pavement maintenanceand winter maintenance operations, opens up the possibility tomake cost-benefit analysis of various maintenance managementprojects. The impact of the monetary values found in this studyhas been studied in a limited cost-benefit analysis.Keywords:stated choice, stated preference, valuationsof maintenance management, driving comfort, road standardevaluation