In an audacious proposal to address the problem of urban public transport and transport related air pollution, and emblematic of everything that China has been doing over the last two decades, a Shenzen-based company, Shenzhen Huashi Future Parking Equipment Co Ltd, has developed a "straddling bus" that appears to jump right out of science fiction.
As the Times reports, this "odd-looking, extra-wide (6 m) and extra-tall (4-4.5 m) vehicle that can carry up to 1,200 passengers... requires neither elevated tracks nor extensive tunneling" and can "be powered by a combination of municipal electricity and solar power derived from panels mounted on the roofs of the vehicles and at bus stops". Its passenger compartment spans the width of two traffic lanes and sits high above the road surface, thanks to a pair of fence-like stilts that leave the road clear for ordinary cars to pass underneath. It runs along a fixed route, on fixed rails along the road margins (they could serve as access control), and has an average speed of 40 kilometers per hour.
The developers claim that the "straddling bus" could reduce traffic jams by 25-30% on main routes by ferrying as many passengers as 40 conventional buses, besides potentially saving the 860 tons of fuel that 40 buses would consume annually, and preventing 2,640 tons of carbon emissions. They also claim that its building cost is only 10% of what it would cost to build an equivalent subway. A 186-km long pilot for the project being planned in Beijing’s Mentougou District, to begin construction by the end of the year.
The demonstration video below makes for fascinating viewing.