Ten years ago the Government was getting all excited about the prospect of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) / car share lanes. They had identified four sections on the M62, M3, M1 and M61 where they thought there was potential, but then what happened…
A few short sections have periodically sprung up here and there between the late 1990s and mid 2000s in Bristol, Bradford, Birmingham and Leeds. Some have lasted the distance and had success, saving drivers time and in some instances helping to cut congestion and improve air quality, but others have sadly fallen by the wayside to joined many other ‘in principle’ good ideas on the transport scrap heap.
We wonder why it is that in the UK there isn’t the appetite for HOV lanes as there is for example in the US and Canada???? Whilst we agree that no-one wants to see an empty lane whilst everyone else sits in a massive tail back (M4 bus lane), car share lanes are a sensible idea.
Perhaps the powers that be think that the same level of benefits which could be achieved by a HOV lane, can be achieved through Travel Planning / Behavioural Change Projects rather than a more cash intensive capital scheme?
As part of our travel plan co-ordination projects we certainly spend quite a bit of time encouraging car sharing. Lots of workplaces and local authorities have car sharing databases to help their staff / residents find a car sharing partner and demonstrate the savings that they could make. We even have our own successful car share running with three members of staff regularly sharing lifts and saving themselves money, wear and tear on their cars, cutting carbon emissions, freeing up parking spaces at our office and reducing congestion on the M27.
Would car sharing in the UK however, be more popular if it was supported by an infrastructure scheme like a dedicated lane? Is now the time to combine the power of behavioural change, advances in mobile communications with an infrastructure project and see what happens? And perhaps the extension of ‘Smart Motorway’ schemes offers a mechanism for enforcing and ensuring the car sharing and car share lanes works to their maximum potential.