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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 July, 2004, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Plan for 'car-share fast lanes'
High-occupancy lanes have proved successful in the US
Special fast-track motorway lanes for car sharers are to be tried out to tackle congestion and pollution, the government is expected to announce.

The lanes, for the exclusive use of cars carrying two or more people, will only operate on a few motorway sections during morning rush-hours.

Drivers travelling alone who enter the lanes will face fines.

It is thought the first experimental routes to be introduced will take in parts of the M1 and M3.

If successful, the scheme could be introduced to congestion hot-spots around the country.

The plan follows Transport Secretary Alistair Darling's visit earlier this year to the US, where up to three million people a day use so-called "high-occupancy" lanes to commute into cities such as Los Angeles and Washington.


The first UK schemes are likely to be introduced where roads are already being widened, or the hard shoulder will be opened to create an extra lane.

The fast lanes of motorways would then be set aside for high-occupancy vehicles.

The fines for lone motorists, which could be up to 100, may be branded a new form of "stealth tax" by critics.

We should not see this as an excuse for widening motorways which is going to make the problem worse rather than better
Tony Bosworth
Friends of the Earth

There is also likely to be concern for workers, such as nurses, whose shift patterns make car-sharing impractical.

The first lanes are expected to include the southbound stretch of the M1 from junction 13 near Bedford to junction 7 near Hemel Hempstead, and the M3 north from junction 3 near Bagshot to the M25 turn-off at junction 2.

Do you think 'high-occupancy' lanes will be effective at reducing congestion, or will they be just another burden for Britain's beleaguered motorists?

Or do you live in an area where car-sharing schemes are already in use?

Send us your comments.

I am the only person who travels from my home location to my place of work. The three lanes around Birmingham are already jammed full. Others like me will be forced into lanes one and two. So if three lanes are already full how is forcing traffic into two lanes going to help?
Ray, Midlands, UK

A very good idea. I've seen this working well in Seattle, USA. I don't think that the 'stealth tax' argument applies. But I wonder whether there are insurance problems.
Peter Jones, Rotherham, UK

It's just another way to hammer motorists. In theory it's actually a good idea, but in practice, many people are forced onto the roads in single occupancy vehicles purely because the public transport systems are so bad. For example - if trains ran to time, my journey to work would probably be 10 minutes less than it would be on the road, but they're just too unreliable. Sort out public transport (and make it affordable) before hammering motorists!
Phil Jones, Neath, UK

Experienced these lanes near Dallas in the US about eight years ago - they appeared to make one lane free-flowing, while the others were made worse. I have no-one to share with on my 50-mile journey each morning - should I start picking up hitchhikers?
Simon, UK

Excellent idea : I use the "Car-Pool" lanes getting into and out of LA when there two or three times a year - though they are NOT a cure (they can grind to a halt with the other seven lanes if traffic is very heavy) - let's see when the first person gets fined for using a blow-up doll as the second person.
Leslie Crowther, Dunstable, Beds

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The BBC's Patrick Bartlett
"The motorways involved would either be widened or have their hard shoulder converted"

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