For the busy streets of Beijing, a new "super bus" is being touted that straddles roadways and can move up to 1,400 people at a time.
From the country that just recently brought us a nine-day traffic jam due to road construction and poor driving skills comes the development of a straddling bus that may just solve up to 30% of Beijing's current traffic woes.
With over 4 million cars on the city's streets, and another million to come by the year's end, the city is looking for any way possible to curb congestion and get people where they need to go. More and more affluent Beijingers (Beijonites? Beijingarians?) are purchasing private vehicles, and the city has been forced to prohibit private drivers from motoring on city streets one day out of the week depending on their licence plate number.
Still, this hasn't really helped matters, and so the Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment company got to work designing a more elegant solution - the straddling bus.
Looks like I can fit: oh crap. oh crap.
This bus would ride above standard traffic and take up no space on the roadways, and also come with seating for 1,400. It would require the installation of special railings along major thoroughfares, elevated bus stops and traffic signal re-designs, but it might just do the trick.
The plan is to lay down a six-kilometer stretch of test track by the end of the year, and also get a working prototype up and running - most likely an eco-friendly electricity/solar power hybrid - by early next year. The second half of 2011 is intended to include actual passenger testing in real-life traffic situations to see just how well the bus can perform.
The eventual hope is to create a 180 kilometer system of straddle bus track that will remove a great many of the cars from Beijing's roads on a regular basis, but there are still a few kinks to be worked out.
First, if a driver veers off and hits one of the side rails, how much protection will be afforded to the bus and those inside? If the middle falls out on this thing, commuters and going to get a great deal more up close and personal with traffic than they had bargained for.
Second, the straddle bus will only allow small and medium-sized vehicles to pass under it - no trucks or other large, well, buses. This could be a problem for truckers and other long-haul drivers that tend not to read signs after long stretches of highway driving, and then proceed to get their vehicle stuck under a bridge, or turned onto a road they can't get out of.
A warning alarm is supposed to sound if a large vehicle tries to pass, but we're not sure what that will do aside from create mass panic and have the driver of the large truck wonder "what's that odd noise?" before crashing headlong into the rear compartment of the bus.
The idea remains innovative, however, and could have large success in a market like Beijing.
As for us - we're still straddling the fence on this one.