WORK is underway on the first motorway car share lane in the UK – based at the Chain Bar junction of the M62.

Vehicles with only one person in them will be banned from using the lane in a bid to encourage car sharing.

The government hopes the £3.95million pilot project will take more cars off the roads and reduce peak time journeys for car sharers by up to eight minutes at the junction which links up with the M606 at junction 26.

Transport Minister Tom Harris believes car sharing is a good idea for drivers.

He said: “This is a very busy stretch of motorway, but just one in five vehicles travelling between the M606 and M62 has more than one occupant.

“This new High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane will give drivers the opportunity to reduce their journey time and make more efficient use of the available road space by sharing their vehicle.

“Car sharing is good for drivers and good for the environment.”

Work began on creating the new High Occupancy Vehicle lane yesterday and it is expected to be open in Spring 2008.

Andrew Brown, Highways Agency project manager, added: “This is a very busy junction and we will be working closely with the contractor to keep disruption to road users to a minimum during construction.

“Most of the work will be happening during the less busy off-peak hours and at night when traffic flows are lower, but there will be some speed restrictions in place and some lane closures.”

The aim of the initiative is to tackle congestion at the busy junction.

Cars carrying two or more passengers will benefit from the extra lane along with coaches, buses and people on motorcycles.

Minibuses and taxis will only be allowed to use the lane when carrying passengers.

Over 195,000 people in the UK have signed up to a car sharing scheme, with and a similar Wakefield scheme providing a local service for commuters travelling into Leeds city centre.

Organisers say it has many benefits, including saving money on vehicle running costs and helping to reduce the carbon footprint with an extra motorist leaving their car at home.

However, the down side is that sharers would have to start and finish work at the same time, be flexible with each other and be willing to share the driving or costs.