One of China’s latest innovations—something being called the “straddling bus” (or as my friend says, "the bus that eats cars")—will help alleviate the heavy traffic issues found in major cities.
Part bus, part traffic tunnel, the invention—of which the renderings more resemble a monorail than a bus—not only rides right alongside street traffic, but on top of it as well. Crazy, right? (The video above shows how it works. Though it's in Chinese, you’ll get the gist.)
According to a presentation given by Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co., Ltd., the company responsible for this creation, construction has already been given the green light and should start by the year’s end. The first implementation will be in Beijing’s Mentougou District and, if deemed a success, will not only add another dash of coolness to an already futuristic-looking cityscape, but also expand elsewhere.
A few things worth mentioning:
- Each bus can carry ~1,200 passengers.
- Construction of a 40 kilometer (~25 miles) subway route takes at least three years; the same route for the straddling bus will take less than one, at just 10% of the cost.
- Ultrasonic waves will be used to sense traffic, warning cars that 1) the bus is about to turn, or 2) the approaching car is too tall to pass under.
- Traffic jams are expected to be reduced by up to 30%.
- The buses are eco-friendly: running on both solar and electric energy, they will receive brief charges at each elevated bus stop.
- Each bus will be equipped with an emergency escape system, not all that different from the inflatable slides found on airplanes.
One factor still up in the air is whether the bus will run along trolley-like tracks, or use autopilot technology to follow white lines painted on the road.
Call me crazy, but my vote is for the tracks.
Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor and resident tech guru at Travel + Leisure.