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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: