Chinese Bus Stops Spray Cooling Mist On Overheated Commuters

Old and busted: Missing your bus. New coolness: Misting your bus stop! The Chinese city of Chongqing is rolling out a cool mist spray system at several dozen city bus stops.

Designed to operate much like the automatic misters in supermarket produce sections, the artificial clouds of chilled water vapor act to keep Chongqing's commuters as cool as cucumbers.

The system is currently enjoying a trial phase at four busy downtown bus stops but plans are afoot to expand the coverage to a total of 30 stops, all in the city center and all operational between 10am and 6pm daily.

Lest anyone cringe at the possibility of, say, piped river water or a polluted reservoir being the source of the mist, authorities have reassured the traveling public that only purified, fit-to-drink tap water will be used.

In addition, the water is chilled to a temperature of 5 to 7°C (roughly 43°F) before misting so waiting passengers won't feel they're being involuntarily steam-cleaned.

Is such a cooling system really needed? If one must ask, one obviously has never been to Chongqing in the summer. Located in south-central China, Chongqing's monsoon-influenced climate is generally described as being humid subtropical. Humidity is prominent year-round and the unpleasant mugginess is exacerbated to nightmarish levels by the summer heat.

How hot is it? Chongqing, Wuhan and Nanjing are popularly known as the “Three Furnaces of the Yangtze River”, and Chongqing's long summers are infamous for ranking among the longest, hottest and most humid in all China. Perhaps owing to a localized urban heat island effect, daily high temperatures in the central city during July and August regularly reach 33 to 34°C (91 to 93°F). 

All things considered, summer commuters should greatly appreciate Chongqing's new bus stop mist spray system – it might even boost ridership on city buses! Suit-wearing office workers and anyone seeking to avoid an unimaginably bad hair day may disagree, though at least they'll avoid heatstroke. (via Shanghaiist)