Weak oversight of road investment

I post a blog a few months ago about the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), which was consulting on its involvement in the third road investment strategy (RIS3). The outcome of this consultation was recently announced.

I had responded to the consultation, suggesting that the ORR should take an interest in the benefits of road investment as experienced by road users, since there was doubt about who mainly benefited, local users (commuters and others) or business users. My contribution was published by the ORR, anonymously, as ‘Response from member of the public D’ (I would have been happy to be named, but was not asked).

In its detailed response to the consultation, the ORR responded to my suggestion at paragraph 3.7, saying that it is not within its remit. It is unusual for an industry regulator to take no interest in the consumer experience. This is a central concern for the regulators of other industries – energy, water, telecoms, financial services.

The ORR also ducked out of accepting other suggestions for extending its responsibilities, including in relation to other important government objectives such as Net Zero and Levelling Up. The detailed critique of the Transport Action Network (page 78 of the ORR response document) is well worth reading.

Altogether, the ORR is a pretty feeble regulator in respect of roads.