Frequently Asked Questions
This page contains a list of questions about how Motorway Services Online works.
Before delving into the questions here, you may find that we already have a section dedicated to your query. See if one of these titles suites you:
- Help:Contacting an Operator - for anyone who needs to speak to a service area.
- How Things Work - facts, figures and an introduction to the industry.
- MSO:About - information about us.
- Help:Editing - questions about contributing to this website.
- Help:Operators' Guide - a special guide produced for the benefit of MSA operator representatives only.
You're missing a service area!
Can you add my business?
Motorway Services Online lists every signposted service station in the UK and Ireland. At least we think we do - there is no other list of them so it relies on our members driving the country looking for them!
To be precise, to be included on this website a service station must have what is known in the trade as a Diagram 2313.1 (that's the road sign with symbols on it provided in advance). For Ireland, we look for official signs with the word "services".
We do this because these signs are only provided (assuming the highway authorities have been following the rules) after the service station has signed an agreement to provide a minimum level of facilities. This means they are officially endorsed. It also means our readers will know what to look out for. Finally, it makes a sensible rule to prevent our database becoming an unmanageable list of every petrol station in the country!
For full disclosure, we've also included a couple of additional sites which don't meet that criteria, but we do receive a lot of queries about. We are not normally receptive to requests from businesses which don't meet that criteria, however if we really are missing something our readers will find useful then please let us know.
Can I use your information in my project?
For small projects, yes, but if it's going to be published we ask that a link to us as your source is provided (if online), or we are named in your sources (if printed). For large commercial projects, please tell us a little more. For ad-funded newspaper articles: please don't copy-and-paste anything without giving a link back to your source (and yes that includes you, Reach Plc).
For questions about photos, see Use Of Our Photos.
I used to work at a motorway service area. How do I find out about pensions / HR issues?
If you left the company a long time ago, then the best advice would be to find out who runs the service area now, and contact them. You can use our search engine to find the service area (or type its name in the search box at the top-right), and then you can use our list of contact details.
If you were not employed directly by a major service area operator; for instance if you were employed by a fuel company or a catering firm, then it can get more complicated. Unfortunately this is not something we are able to provide assistance with.
Is Motorway Services Online up-to-date?
We list a whole load of facts about over 300 service stations. When things change they are usually updated within a few days (sometimes hours); which is faster than some of the operators correct their own websites. Despite every effort we cannot guarantee that every single fact is up to date, especially with some of the smaller service areas that few of our readers visit. Information is provided in good faith, and the date each page was last updated is displayed at the bottom.
Historical information is not added without a source.
A note for third party websites which are looking to cite Motorway Services Online as a source: most pages on Motorway Services Online are built using user generated content, we don't deny this. However, for most users this user-generated content is reviewed before it is published, during which any concerns can be raised, and the published changes are reviewed on a daily basis. Many of our pages remain static for many months (a precise edited date is provided at the bottom of the page), and in those cases it is safe to assume the content has passed our quality checks.
Do you have any sister sites in other countries?
Motorway Services Online covers the UK and Ireland. Learning the rest of the world's motorway network seems a little too much for now!
A quick online search shows that there are very few websites about foreign service stations, perhaps it's because they're not as infamous as UK ones.
Why do you insist information given is unique?
Why can't I just paste some changes?
If you've ever spent weeks travelling to London and hours reading old documents, you'll realise it's more than irritating when somebody copies everything you spent days typing up, implicitly takes all the credit for it, and on some occasions goes on to make money out of it.
We take a dim view of people who take our contributors' work and don't thank them for it. But we can only take that position if we know the information we hold isn't already available anywhere else. Besides, the vast majority of the time the information we already have is more accurate than what's available elsewhere.
Why are some services filed under the wrong road?
All the service areas we list are filed under the correct road - sometimes pedantically so - but in addition, some service areas are listed under additional routes which aren't strictly accurate but more useful to visitors.
For example, the M74 and A74(M) are officially two totally different roads, but most drivers don't know this, so a search for the M74 will always include results from the often-forgotten A74(M) too. The 'road' listing will always make it clear exactly which road each service area is on.
Likewise, Rownhams is clearly on the M27, but it will also appear on searches for the A31. That's because the A31 has a gap in the middle of it, and seeing as our page already lists both the western half and the eastern half, it makes sense to include the one service area you'll pass when moving between the two. Before anybody asks, we don't do that for more complicated roads like the A38, because trying to explain what happens to that road in the middle will only make things more complicated for drivers who don't care.
Why do you host your own maps?
For planned service areas, the question we get asked most is probably about what the access arrangements will be. We create our own maps using the facts in the public domain to highlight the relationship between the new facilities and the existing road network only. Once the new facility has been open a while and the facts are well established, we delete our images.
For existing service areas, we embed maps from third parties who make it easy to so, to help people see where the service area is.
Do the MSA operators visit this website?
Absolutely - over the years we've had correspondence with them over many issues, some of it constructive and some of it less-so. Our historical information has been used to inform the design of new service areas and to provide context to business decisions. Two motorway service area operators have been using our images to promote their facilities: one of them asked for permission, and one of them didn't.
While we are happy to discuss any concerns with operators, we maintain complete editorial independence. Most of our text is based on information that's already on the public record anyway.
How do I use the website?
It depends what you're looking for! If you're looking for information on a particular service station, the 'motorways' tab would be a good place to start - there is a link from there for A-roads.
The 'information' tab may help you, but it contains a lot more detailed information which is generally only of interest to enthusiasts of the industry. The 'website' tab is for those who are interested in the type of information offered and would like to take part.
How do I update something on the site or add a photo?
How do I log in?
Firstly, if you're not already registered, get on with it! Press 'register' under 'login' at the top (desktop) or bottom (mobile). Afterwards log in. Then go to the page you want to update and press edit in the bottom-right (desktop) or bottom-left (mobile).
Why do I keep being logged out?
This is usually caused by a corrupt cookie. The website can occasionally get confused as you browse around, especially if you move between the British (blue) and Irish (green) versions of the website. Open your browser's privacy settings and delete all cookies set by "motorwayservices".
Why was I moved between the British (blue) and the Irish (green) versions of the website?
Although there are two versions of the website for Britain and for Ireland, the two subjects overlap. As a result they share a database.
Sometimes you will be searching for a page on the Irish version and the only result will come from the British version, or vice-versa. If you just browse around the links this shouldn't cause an issue.
Generally speaking, as there are fewer Irish service areas, all the information will be placed on each service area's page. In the UK, there is often so much information to share that more generic pages, such as Services Which Have Been On TV, are used.
Why was my edit undone?
Whenever you edit a page on this site, you allow others to further edit or remove your work - this is even stated on the edit page. If your edit was completely removed then a reason will be given on the history page (press the 'history' tab on the appropriate page) or on your message wall (talk page).
How do I rate a service area?
All the major service areas have a ratings box on the right-hand side of their page. At first it will tell you what the current (average) rating is in each category; you can then tap the appropriate star to add your opinion.
If you see a red 'x', this means your rating hasn't been processed successfully and it may be worth trying again. If you see a green tick, this means you (or someone with your IP) have already rated (or just rated) that service area on that category.
Why do none of the maps work?
Our maps are provided by a number of third party sources, and passed through a complicated MediaWiki script. Normally pressing 'refresh' will fix any problems loading it. If that doesn't work, let us know - it might be a problem with your browser but if lots of people are having the same problem we'll have to take a look at it.
Tapping on a photo just gives me a blank screen!
We are working on this issue, but it should only happen infrequently. If you refresh the page and try again it should work this time.
Why can't I post a review?
Our comment box is powered by CommentBox.io. In order to leave a review or other public feedback, you must be registered with them. For the time being, this is separate from our own registration system, so having an account with us doesn't mean you will automatically have an account with them.
There is a separate 'sign up' box next to each comment section. You can either save time by signing it using a social media account you already have, or by creating a new account with CommentBox. Once you are logged in with them, you will be able to review all you like.
Be aware that not every service area or brand page allows you to leave reviews. This is because we only activate this feature for our most popular pages. Our experience has been that the majority of service areas don't attract any reviews, and an empty comment box doesn't help anybody!
Why is there a website about motorway services?
Like all good things, it was a joke that went too far. I mean why would you run a website about motorway services?
After writing about them for a while we became increasingly interested in what I was writing, and a huge website was born.
Why are you called Motorway Services Online when it's pretty obvious you are online?
This was a mistake we made when the internet was a more novel experience. It's too late to go back on it now.
We operate a spin-off website called "Now Fully Open" which we think is a much more clever name, but we can't use that for the main website because most casual readers wouldn't get it.