Police have resumed patrols along Birmingham’s car sharing lane and are again handing out £60 fines to motorists.
The decision was taken at the request of the city council, which is now considering extending the year-long experiment until next May.
The dedicated lane along the A47 Heartlands Spine Road, which is supposed to be used only by vehicles carrying at least two people during the morning rush hour, was branded a “shambles” by a motoring organisation last month after it emerged not a single fine had been imposed since March.
Police admitted they had stopped patrolling the road while the council carried out a study into the impact of the car sharing scheme.
Council head of transportation strategy Chris Haynes said initial monitoring data proved the lane is a success.
The number of cars containing two or more people has risen by 20 per cent since last November.
Mr Haynes added that car sharing had not led to increased journey times for drivers in cars on their own.
He said: “The experimental order doesn’t run out until next May so the car share lane will be able to continue until then if it is agreed that should happen.
“If we can get more people to car share then the number of vehicles using the road drops so there is a double benefit of fewer carbon emissions and a reduction in congestion.”
The number of people prepared to share a car rose sharply when petrol prices shot up earlier this year, Mr Haynes added.
Information about traffic patterns along the A47 and nearby roads is being assessed by the Department for Transport. Experts want to be sure that car sharing does not simply push more traffic on to the highly congested A38 Tyburn Road.
If the scheme is deemed a success, more car sharing lanes are likely to be put in place along other main roads into Birmingham city centre.
The latest figures did not satisfy members of the transportation scrutiny committee. Coun Dennis Birbeck (Con Sutton New Hall) said the Spine Road cost more than £100 million to build but carried little traffic and was the wrong place for a car share lane. Committee chairman Martin Mullaney said that environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth, were scathing in their criticism of the council.
“They think we have chosen an easy road for a car share scheme. A road where there was no problem of congestion in the first place,” Coun Mullaney (Lib Dem Moseley & Kings Heath) pointed out.
Mr Haynes said the A47 had been chosen because there were few junctions, which meant that the cost of implementing the scheme was significantly less than would be the case on other roads.
* Meanwhile, Tyburn Road has become the fastest radial route into Birmingham since bus lanes were scrapped four years ago.
Data compiled by the city council congestion task force suggests that journey times for cars have improved significantly.
Details will not be released until engineers have had time to study Department for Transport monitoring of traffic flow along Tyburn Road and the A47 Heartlands Spine Road, where a car share lane has been operating for a year.
Average congestion on the seven radial roads has reduced by 10 per cent over the past year, according to the council.
The most congested route now is Dudley Road. The changes are being put down to a “quick wins” campaign, which involves a number of easy-to-implement ideas to speed traffic flow.