Part 4: Roading services

Local government: Examples of better practice in setting local authorities' performance measures.

What are the services that the roading group of activities generally provides?

In the roading group of activities, the built road network is the main activity provided by local authorities, and rural local authorities were generally unlikely to identify any other additional activities. The built road network largely comprises sealed roads and unsealed roads but also includes bridges, footpaths, kerb and channel systems, street lighting, signs, and furniture such as cycle stands and seats. Many local authorities also have a network development programme of building new roads and related assets, which is included in their asset management programmes. The services provided by local authorities were largely focused on road safety, congestion, road smoothness, and maintenance of the roading assets.

The primary aim of the roading group of activities is to provide a safe and efficient roading network that facilitates the movement of people and goods. Lighting, for example, enhances safety, and aids navigation for all road users. Street corridors provide access for power, telecommunications, water supply, and waste disposal facilities.

The service of managing the built road network involves activities such as maintaining and renewing the roads and associated assets, such as traffic signs and lights. A range of monitoring activities can be carried out to plan for asset renewal and to develop outcomes such as road safety, ease of passage on travel routes, and travel continuity.

What are the typical features of service levels and performance measurement?

Faults, complaints, and repair requests

It is essential that the transport network is reliable and operates so that travel time is reasonably predictable. The road network and its facilities need to be in good condition and "fit for purpose". Local authorities record information on deficiencies (such as a destroyed traffic sign, a hazard (a land slip, for example), or a pot hole) using either their own resources or those of roading contractors. However, such monitoring can only be periodic, and local authorities also rely on the community to report faults and repair meeds.

Many local authorities include measures for faults, complaints, and repair requests. The better performance measures are set out in Example 1.

Example 1
Better performance measures for faults, complaints, and repair requests

[x]% compliance with maintenance contract response times.

Repairs to road surface. Time taken to investigate/undertake repairs to carriageway surfaces, once problem is known or reported.

Percentage requests for service resolved within target timeframes (road service defects, streetlights, parking in the [central business district]).

The percentage of request for service and complaints (for example, streetlight failures, pot holes, pavement markings) dealt within contractually specific response times.

The percentage of minor faults on footpaths repaired within [x] working days of detection.

All routes are to be made accessible within [x] hours of an emergency closure – cleared or detour provided.

For those performance measures that refer to response times or target timeframes, including brief descriptive information would be helpful to better describe the standard of service provided. For example, "pot holes are repaired within [x] hours, parking repairs within [x] hours." Other types of performance measures for service requests could include incidence of failures (by location) or frequency and recurrence of faults.


There were several performance measures of road smoothness/roughness, which also give an insight into the standard of maintenance. Most such measures were expressed against the roughness index – that is, National Association of Australian State Road Authorities (NAASRA) counts. Although this measure provides an appropriate basis for measuring the quality of roads, it is technical and a reader may have difficulty understanding what it conveys. For example, is a roughness index of "90-110 NAASRA counts" a good or poor target or result?

Technical requirements are relevant considerations in measuring and assessing performance. However, to make the information useful for the reader, the local authority could describe what the road is like under various scenarios or NAASRA counts. Another option is to provide measures referenced to baseline performance over time or benchmarked against other councils, so readers can focus on understanding the performance trend. Hurunui District Council included the following benchmarking performance measure in its LTCCP: "Roading (RAMM) survey data for Hurunui roads compares favourably with other rural Councils similar to Hurunui District".

Crashes, injuries, and fatalities

The transportation network is designed and managed for safe use, and low crash and injury rates. As a result, performance measures should reflect services carried out to ensure safety. We found that performance measures were primarily impact measures – for example, the total number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities – and were indicators of the local authority's community outcomes.

Impact measures allow inferences to be made about service quality. They can be a useful part of assessing service delivery, particularly where direct quality may be difficult to assess. However, crashes are caused by a range of factors, among which the built road is only one, and the results of such measures are not directly within a local authority's control. Example 2 shows the performance measures that were both common and better.

Example 2
Better performance measures for crashes, injuries, and fatalities

Injury crashes per [x] million vehicle kilometres travelled over [x] years.

Number of vehicle crashes per year involving injury where contributing factor is "road conditions".

There were no preventative-type performance measures. This could be an area for development – for example, reducing the number of crashes at identified "accident black spots".


The metropolitan local authorities often included performance measures on congestion. Congestion may reflect an inefficient transport system. Transport networks help people access and participate in a wide range of activities and services. Lack of access and impaired mobility can reduce a person's ability to participate in the community and take advantage of social and economic opportunities.

Example 3 shows a better performance measure for congestion.

Example 3
Better performance measure for congestion

Congestion travel index (CGI) which is the minutes of delay per km of travel on key [city] routes. A CGI of zero represents uncongested free-flowing conditions. Therefore, the higher the indicator, the greater the degree of congestion.

Other congestion performance measures were based on satisfaction surveys – that is, satisfaction with the ability to drive around quickly, easily, and safely, or satisfaction that it is easy to move around in the city or district (see also paragraphs 3.10-3.14). Local authorities could consider developing congestion performance measures based on, for example, the number of vehicles and/or alternative travel routes.

Other services that the roading group of activities provides

Metropolitan and some larger provincial local authorities often identified additional services within the roading group of activities, reflecting an emphasis on developing a more sustainable transport system and consideration of other modes of transport such as walking, cycling, buses, and ferries.

Provision of cycle and pedestrian facilities

Local authorities see cycle and pedestrian facilities as creating opportunities. Walking and cycling are sustainable alternative travel options compared with private vehicles. They also promote a healthy lifestyle.

Despite the identification of cycle and pedestrian facilities as an activity, the only performance measures on these matters were satisfaction survey measures. If the availability and maintenance of cycle and pedestrian facilities is important to the community, then performance measures about availability and maintenance should be available for those seeking it. However, the absence of information suggests that the activity does not require or receive significant management by local authorities. Therefore, it may not need to be specifically emphasised as an activity in general purpose information such as the LTCCP and annual report.

This does not mean that the local authority should be disinterested in the activity. The local authority needs to decide the level at which it should aggregate information, balancing public interest and the cost of preparing external information (see paragraphs 3.9 and 3.15-3.17).

Provision of public transport assets

Regional councils are usually primarily responsible for public transport. This includes investigating public transport needs, giving effect to regional transport policies, promoting transport services, and monitoring the performance of contracted passenger providers. City and district councils contribute by providing public transport assets such as bus stops and shelters, bus priority systems, and signage. Public transport services help to reduce the number of motor vehicles on roads, contributing towards efficient transport flows, providing public access to a range of destinations, and reducing adverse environmental effects.

Local authorities typically had measures for passenger numbers (which reflect uptake of public transport) and access to public transport. Example 4 shows some of the both common and better performance measures.

Example 4
Better performance measures for access to public transport

The number of bus passengers per annum.

The percentage of properties in the [x] area within 700 metres of a bus stop.

[x]% of public bus services run on time.

Some performance measures could be improved by indicating the direction of change the local authority wants to see – for example, "an increase in". Other performance measures could be expanded. For example, using the "public bus services run on time" performance measure, and stating what an acceptable or tolerable delay is, will help the community interpret the intended level of service.

Parking services

Parking services can involve:

  • providing access to businesses and recreational destinations through car parking facilities; and
  • monitoring and enforcing the conditions of use for these facilities, including parking time limits and charges. Regular patrols of parking areas on urban streets ensure regular turnover of public car parking spaces and ensure that appropriate enforcement action is taken where required in an effective, timely, correct, and considerate manner.

Overall, the performance measures provided were not clear about intended service levels and how the achievement of these services was being assessed. There were several performance measures about the number of parking spaces available or that a citywide patrol service was available for a specified number of hours per day per week. Because local authorities provide parking services to manage access, it was unclear how the number of spaces and hours of patrol provided a basis for measuring the performance of parking services.

One local authority included a better performance measure to assess parking access (see Example 5).

Example 5
Better performance measure for parking services

% of average parking availability ([x] in [x] spaces available between [x]am and [x]pm, as measured by survey). A number of blocks are surveyed each year in response to feedback from parking enforcement officers or queries from retailers and shoppers.

The major aspect of a local authority's parking service from the perspective of its management effort is its parking monitoring and enforcement work. Of the 15 local authorities included in our review, 13 included the car parking activity in their roading group of activities. Queenstown Lakes District Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council were the only exceptions. They included their car parking enforcement activity in the regulatory services group of activities.

Local authorities may wish to consider whether there are similarities between regulatory service levels and measures, and parking services. For example, local authorities could consider including performance measures for action(s) taken where parking restrictions have not been adhered to, to reflect the enforcement service, and performance measures about the safety of parked vehicles.

Other potential areas for consideration

Overall, the performance measures for roading services lacked links to financial and asset management information. There is potential for development of ratio indicators, such as the average cost of maintenance per roading network kilometre, carrying out scheduled asset maintenance and renewal work (see also paragraph 4.6), road safety, public transport, walking and cycling, and congestion. We understand that NZTA publishes each year cost per kilometre data for each local authority, and this could be used for benchmarking.

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