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“Straddling” bus–a cheaper, greener and faster alternative to commute

July 31st, 2010 by Annie Lee | Posted in News | 78 Comments »

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A big concern on top of urban transportation planner’s mind is how to speed up the traffic: putting more buses on the road will jam the roads even worse and deteriorate the air; building more subway is costly and time consuming. Well, here is an cheaper, greener and fast alternative to lighten their mind up a bit: the straddling bus, first exhibited on the 13th Beijing International High-tech Expo in May this year. In the near future, the model is to be put into pilot use in Beijing’s Mentougou District (bjnews). (The official site of the high-tech expo put it as 3D fast bus, which I think is more confusing, for now I’ll just call it the straddling bus.)

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Proposed by Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co., Ltd, the model looks like a subway or light-rail train bestriding the road. It is 4-4.5 m high with two levels: passengers board on the upper level while other vehicles lower than 2 m can go through under. Powered by electricity and solar energy, the bus can speed up to 60 km/h carrying 1200-1400 passengers at a time without blocking other vehicles’ way. Also it costs about 500 million yuan to build the bus and a 40-km-long path for it, only 10% of building equivalent subway. It is said that the bus can reduce traffic jams by 20-30%.

Here is the presentation by Song Youzhou, chairman of  Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co., Ltd.

Translation:

What you can see from the video is traffic jams, what you can hear is noise, and there is also invisible air pollution. At present, there are mainly 4 types of public transits in China: subway, light-rail train, BRT, and normal bus. They have advantages and disadvantages, for example, subway costs a lot and takes long time to build; BRT takes up road spaces and produces noises as well as pollution to the air. How to develop environmental-friendly public transportation? Straddling bus provides a solution. Let’s watch a demonstration.

The straddling bus combines the advantages of BRT, it is also a substitution for BRT and subway in the future. As you all know, the majority vehicle on the road is car, the shortest vehicle is also car. Normally our overpass is 4.5-5.5 m high. The highlight innovation of straddling bus is that it runs above car and under overpass. Its biggest strength is saving road spaces, efficient and high in capacity. It can reduce up to 25-30% traffic jams on main routes. Running at an average 40 km/h, it can take 1200 people at a time, which means 300 passengers per cart.

Another strength of straddling bus is its short construction life cycle: only 1 year to build 40 km. Whereas building 40-km subway will take 3 years at best. Also the straddling bus will not need the large parking lot that normal buses demand. It can park at its own stop without affecting the passage of cars. This is what the interior looks like: it has huge skylight that will eliminate passengers’ sense of depression when enter.

There are two parts in building the straddling bus. One is remodeling the road, the other is building station platforms. Two ways to remodel the road: we can go with laying rails on both sides of car lane, which save 30% energy; or we can paint two white lines on both sides and use auto-pilot technology in the bus, which will follow the lines and run stable.

There are also two ways in dealing with station platform. One is to load/unload through the sides; the other is using the built-in ladder so that passengers can go up and to the overpass through the ceiling door.

Straddling bus is completely powered by municipal electricity and solar energy system. In terms of electricity, the setting is called relay direct current electrification. The bus itself is electrical conductor, two rails built on top to allow the charging post to run along with the bus, the next charging post will be on the rails before the earlier one leaves, that is why we call it relay charging. It is new invention, not available yet in other places.

The set here is super capacitor, a device that can charge, discharge and store electricity quickly. The power it stores during the stop can support the bus till the next stop where another round of charging takes place, achieving zero toxic gas throughout the process.

About the ultrasonic waves put forth from the end of the bus, that is to keep those high cars or trucks away from entering the tunnel. Using laser ray to scan, cars get too close to the passage will activate the alarm on the bus end. Inside the bus, there are turning lights that indicate a the bus is intending to make a turn to warn the cars inside. Also radar scanning system is embedded on the walls to warn cars from getting too close to the bus wheels.

Nowadays many big cities have remodeled their traffic signaling system, to prioritize public buses, that is to say when a bus reaches a crossing, red light on the other side of the fork will turn on automatically to give buses the right of way. Our straddling bus can learn from this BRT method. The car can make the turn with the bus if that is the direction it wants to go too; if not, the red light will be on to stop the cars beneath while the bus take the turn.

The bus is 6 m in width and 4-4.5 m high. How will people get off the bus if an accident happens to such a huge bus? Here I introduce the most advanced escaping system in the world. In the case of fire or other emergencies, the escaping door will open automatically. I believe many of you have been on a plane. Planes are equipped with inflated ladder so people can slide down on it in emergency. I put the escaping concept into the straddling bus. It is the fastest way to escape.

The bus can save up to 860 ton of fuel per year, reducing 2,640 ton of carbon emission. Presently we have passed the first stage demonstration and will get through all of the technical invalidation by the end of August. Beijing’s Mentougou District is carrying out a eco-community project, it has already planned out 186 km for our straddling bus. Construction will begin at year end.

Thank you.

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78 Responses:

  1. Kris Haamer says:

    This is the craziest transportation device I’ve seen to date. By far.

  2. xino says:

    That’s really a cool idea! Why couldn’t I think of that. Its a neat idea to lower traffic

  3. Alejandro says:

    amazing. +10

  4. GuoBao says:

    Straddling buses have been theory for decades but as far as I know nobody has every built an operating one. Would be very cool to see it come to life in a real city, though I doubt it would be long before some moron driver crashes into it and derails it. Also I would like to point out the hugely inflated number of people they propose it will carry. 300 per cart is only going to happen if people are squeezed together like in the worst of today’s regular buses and nobody likes that one bit.

  5. Very interesting. I’m curious to see how it handles drunks, crossing traffic……

  6. shenmeniao says:

    this mode of transportation demands an action movie

    yao ming action hero acting debut?

  7. CBC says:

    seems very innovative, but i’m sure some ass will still manage to crash into the bus. Just like those drivers that don’t read the clearence level under the bridge. :-/

  8. Devin says:

    geogrous ~!

  9. John says:

    Interesting concept, but the accidents would be nasty.

  10. Cold Heartless Fearful Guy says:

    Just need another guy dissatisfied with society to take a container of petrol on board and turn into a ‘towering inferno’.

    Interesting design, but it fails to take into account one design feature required of Chinese road users – the total traffic chaos they have when travelling!!!

    If it has to ‘turn-off’ the main road (like at 1:30) and has it’s body crossing the lane, it would be full of idiots in taxi’s trying to race the light!!! Having a moving tunnel to negotiate will be very interesting

  11. NIGGRADAMUS says:

    Muthaf*ckers had me until I read “Inside the bus, there are turning lights that indicate a the bus is intending to make a turn to warn the cars inside.” Make a turn with vehicles inside in the driving environment in China? NEGRO PLEASE. Did the genius inventor ever drive in China?

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  13. Devin says:

    “gergeous” should be

  14. sunbin says:

    well…..it can save the HOV lanes in freeways.
    in US (eg Los Angeles), freeway lanes were closed or narrowed to make way for Metro. with this straddling bus the original lanes and shoulders could be retained.

  15. Carl says:

    It’s a beautiful design, but given the experiences I’ve had while travelling in Beijing and other cities… lanes are pretty much non existent, so I failed to see how this could work in such an environment. Perhaps installing a super stiff brake, so whatever is crashing into it won’t even budge the bus?

  16. yao says:

    I like it but…
    with all the crashes into guardrails already, it would always be stuck behind some rail bent into its path. And it would freak people out a bit if this thing came zooming over them.

  17. TS says:

    Looks neat, but it seems that you would have to compare it to the elevated track systems that exist(ed) in many cities such as Chicago and New York. In elevated tracks, the elevation is built into the track, so you need a lot of steel to elevate the entire length of the track, while here the elevation part is built into the train.

    So, there might be savings here, but do they make up for all the technological and safety complications of the design? Hard to tell, but my money would be on elevated tracks if the choice is only between these two. Of course, elevated track systems have some image problems (think of an old elevated track with trains rattling by your window every few minutes) when compared to the neat, white, and shiny CG generated images of these “buses”.

  18. Buhaoyise says:

    Cool! I like this idea.

    On the other hand China could greatly improve traffic flow by simply teaching basic road safety / efficiency to drivers: ie. right of way, shoulder checks, lane discipline.

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  21. Crystal says:

    “… and there is also invisible air pollution …”

    Hehe, air pollution in China is quite visible :-)

  22. [...] August 2010China to build giant buses/trains that cars can drive under[via:Hacker News][link]Posted by thomas Tags: buses, cars, china, cities, commuting, infrastructure, [...]

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  24. Kasie Nadine says:

    I’m a recent grad just trying to learn more about the green business and I really enjoyed reading your post. Keep up the great work!

  25. Simon says:

    Brilliant idea though to be honest some of the points brought up are a bit impractical or at least unrealistic. Personally I just don’t like the idea of more than one vehicle occupying the same space at the same time. I think with a bit of work and perhaps slightly more realistic goals, this could be a great alternative to a lot of traffic congestion. Nice job, dude

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  27. Bruce says:

    Interesting concept. Its a neat idea to lower traffic, but the accidents would be nasty.

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  29. Cleo says:

    I only know that I hate being out in direct sunlight which is why the expo in Shanghai looks so unattractive to me. There are covered walkways in the Summer Palace for a reason. It’s all well and good to enjoy “the great outdoors” but not if one emerges permanently speckled and creased. We call ourselves the Yellow Skin people not the brown paper bag skin people. In Hongkong, most recreation happens indoors, air conditioned and the girls bronze beautifully in the half minute it takes them to go from haven to haven. But it IS only half a minute. I would think twice about designing anything that doesn’t offer sun protection.

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  39. Andi says:

    Nice idea,

    How can they set the tires in motion? There is no space for a normal motor – axis system? The only way I can think of is a caterpillar.

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  45. Béranger says:

    Technically and functionally, this is not a bus but a streetcar (tramway), as it runs guided by fixed rails — should you have watched the full movie.

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  50. ben says:

    How about having the bus go over reverse traffic. Therefore it can prevent trucks going under it. Cars spend less time underneath and have a less chance of a accident.

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  56. s says:

    there’s so many problems with this concept
    1. what if there was a accident ahead? everyone will have to get off the bus or wait till accident clears?
    2. there’s a lot of j walkers in china, there’s no dout someone will get hit.
    3. is it safe enough for the passengers if some driver hits it from below.
    4. there’s bound to be some truck drivers who think they can make the 2m mark

  57. [...] “Straddling” bus–a cheaper, greener and faster alternative to commute A big concern on top of urban transportation planner’s mind is how to speed up the traffic: putting more buses on the road will jam the roads even worse and deteriorate the air; building more subway is costly and time consuming. Well, here is an cheaper, greener and fast alternative to lighten their mind up a bit: the straddling bus, first exhibited on the 13th Beijing International High-tech Expo in May this year. [...]

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