Friday Fun: Chinese Solution to Transit
The "Straddling Bus" that can drive over cars is the newest Chinese solution to traffic. Image via Huffington Post.

The "Straddling Bus" that can drive over cars is the newest Chinese solution to traffic. Image via Huffington Post.

Why is this Friday Fun? Because we think it’s kind of a joke!

Engadget reported earlier this week on plans for a new Chinese bus that drives over cars, saying the idea for “huge friggin’ buses engulfing smaller cars … actually makes sense … minimizing congestion impact by allowing cars to drive underneath these jumbo buses.” Cars under two meters high will be able to driver under the buses, and a radar will reportedly warn drivers if they’re getting too close to the bus wheels. The buses will be designed to run on relay charges of electricity and solar power, and passengers will board from elevated stations.

Riders will board from giant elevated loading stations. Image via Huffington Post.

Riders will board from giant elevated loading stations. Image via Huffington Post.

But do these plans — developed by Shenzhen Huashi Future Parking Equipment — actually provide an “environmentally friendly way to save money while easing congestion,” as the Huffington Post posited?

Videos featuring the straddling bus treat large public buses, rather than private vehicles, as the major culprits for congestion. And reporting on the bus, China Hush said: “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.”

Really? If more efficiently run buses on the road motivate people to ditch their private vehicles, this reduces congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

EMBARQ Founder Lee Schipper called the straddling bus “a joke,” saying it solves no problems.  Dario Hidalgo, EMBARQ’s Senior Transport Engineer, expressed a similar opinion in a more technical fashion:

The plan is really innovative, but seems to be at a very preliminary concept stage with too many issues to solve from the engineering standpoint.  For the time being, it would be much better to dedicate time and effort to simpler and more effective transit solutions, rather than making concepts that preserve space for cars.

Shenzhen Huashi Future Car-Parking Equipment will reportedly begin construction of the first 186 kilometers of track near Beijing’s Mentougou district at the end of this year.

Clever or Crazy?  Reaction to the plan on Twitter:

Chris Hampson pretty much summed up the tweetosphere’s response to the bus, asking, “Chinese Tunnel Bus: Clever or Crazy?” Emily Anthes called the plan “Amazing! And possibly totally insane!”  Many called the bus “brilliant” and others deemed it bogus.

Xavier Treviño, an “urban cyclist” from Mexico City, begged for officials in Mexico NOT to propose the idea, saying: “Otra ideota: buses que dejan pasar también coches, gobernantes mexicanos no propongan esto.” (Translation: Another big idea: buses that let cars pass underneath, Mexican leaders – don’t propose this.”

Watch a video about the new bus:

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  • airsoft_

    Friday Fun: Chinese Solution to Transit

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • alan

    It’s kinda’ amazing how many articles I’ve seen that seems to think this is a brilliant idea; it’s quite terrible, really. Whenever you have a vehicle that has that much mass – and inertia – you don’t want other vehicles cutting in, out, and around it. It’s an accident waiting to happen.

    I saw in the video that they’d prevent people from crashing into the sides of it from the inside with flashing lights. Being surrounded by a moving tunnel, wouldn’t flashing lights confuse a driver in some circumstances? I could imagine teenager trying to set off the flashing lights for fun. Again – a solution that might just result in causing more accidents.

    In a vehicle with 1200 passengers, you really don’t want to have that many stops. Even if this vehicle is successful at getting around some traffic – it will occasional be stopped by traffic. All of that cries for having a dedicated throughway – uh, like an elevated train or subway. If they want to go for a cheap solution, why not bus rapid transit with dedicated lanes, fed by overhead wires? (Solar power can feed into the grid, if that’s your concern.) More stops, more destinations, good efficiency … Oh – that solution already exists – we can’t use an idea that already exists.

    This has been called “thinking outside the box”. In engineering, there’s two boxes – the box of tired old solutions, and the box of constraints the real world imposes on you. You want to think outside of the first box, but not the second. This dumb idea is completely out of any box.

  • alttransport

    Is China’s straddling bus functional or fiction? Over at @TheCityFix, they’re not pulling punches

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter