Need a mood-boost? Visit a motorway services

M1 Motorway

Published on 19 October 2017 by Robert Drane

If you need cheering up, visiting a motorway service area (MSA) could be a good way to improve your mood, a new survey suggests.

The survey of 112 MSAs in England, published by transport user watchdog Transport Focus on 16 October, found that 20% more visitors were happy or relaxed when they left a service area compared with when they arrived, while 17% more felt less tired, stressed or frustrated after their visit.

Researchers surveyed 8,700 MSA users, including around 90 motorbike riders, and their responses revealed that 90% were satisfied overall with their visit. Just 3% were dissatisfied.

Being clean and tidy, delivering what the customer wanted and good food choices were among the main reasons for customer satisfaction while cost, poor cleanliness and a limited variety of food were most likely to leave visitors dissatisfied.

MSA operators were also rated on how many customers would revisit a service area. The five main operators all scored highly, with Extra in first place on 98%. Welcome Break and Westmorland were both likely to be revisited by 97% of customers and Moto and Roadchef both scored 96%.

The best-performing MSAs were Reading Westbound on the M4 (Moto) and Rivington Northbound (EuroGarages) on the M61, both of which scored 100% satisfaction. Lowest scoring was Heston Eastbound (Moto) on the M4, with 62%.

The survey found that the main reason for visiting an MSA was to use the loo, followed by eating or drinking at the service area, or to buy something to eat or drink in their vehicle.

Jeff Halliwell, chair of Transport Focus, described overall satisfaction levels as “impressive”, adding: “Overall, MSA operators are providing what road users want and are doing it well.”