By Deborah Gage
Posting in Cities
Here's a novel way for China to cut its pollution and smooth its traffic jams.
This picture from China News shows China's latest scheme for handling both its traffic jams and its air pollution -- a combination bus/train that would straddle the road so cars could drive underneath it.
The project was exhibited in May at the Beijing International High-Tech Expo by the Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co Ltd., according to the news service China Hush.
It runs on electricity or solar energy. Passengers would sit on the top level (the bus can accommodate 1200 to 1400 people) while cars drive beneath them.
Its creators claim the straddling bus could reduce traffic jams by 25 to 30 percent, partly by getting people out of their cars and partly because the bus would move along with the cars underneath it rather than being one more vehicle on the road. Carbon emissions, they estimate, would be reduced by 860 tons per year.
Below, from China Hush, is a translated excerpt of the demonstration of the bus that tells how it works. You can also watch the video, which was posted on YouTube by sadieblooming and has an English voice-over.
The bus's creators also point out that the straddling bus would be much faster to build than a subway -- a year versus three years -- and has a "huge skylight that will eliminate passengers’ sense of depression when (they) enter."
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.
Construction is scheduled to begin by the end of this year. The straddling bus looks like a good idea to me -- what do you think?
Aug 6, 2010
What if we changed it a bit and put the straddle bus in the Lincoln Tunnel? http://ideavein.com/2010/11/24/straddling-bus-lincoln- tunnel/
Why not have the bus clean the air under it to reduce pollution; that way it would have a function even with no passengers.
They can make the buses in a size that fits any underpass that a tractor trailer truck can go under. The bus won't make sudden turns and lane changes. All the turns will be marked on the road or controlled by traffic lights. The bus can make gentle curves with cars underneath and without problems. The underside of the bus can have "windows" to let fumes out, and fans can be added if desired. The bus does not emit fumes of its own. The openings will not be big enough to drive or walk through. The bus won't travel that fast so as to need complex steering mechanisms. Public acceptance depends on how long it takes to ride on regular buses out in the suburbs where there are not enough people to fill the big bus and transferring to the big straddling bus halfway in to the city and maybe having to make yet another transfer in the middle of the city. Other questions and answers: http://www.cockam.com/stradbus.htm
If one were to break down or get into a crash, how is the towing service going to handle it? I love the idea of this bus!!!
Ford doesn't make the Escalade--Caddilac of GM does. Places like Kansas City, Dallas and others (two places I have been) have overpasses of 5 deep, I agree with a previous poster--how would this work in places like that? Her in OKC on the interstate highways, there are few overpasses (they overpass the streets in most cases, not vice versa) except in intersections of two freeways I-40, I-44 for instance. I-40 goes over I-44.
Creative indeed. but if the main gaol is to reduce pollution and increase fuel efficiency, why not go for water fuel cell technology? they will reduce the pollution and oil dependencies by 90 to 95%! One litre of water could power a Ford Escalade for 120 miles! And you can choose to make electric cars using the magnetic powered generators, too! With that, the Ford Explorer does not even need fuel at all! And these technologies exist. if anyone doubts them, they can look up patent info on them! there wouldnt be any if it were not possible.
A rather interesting innovation I must say, though I don't see it taking on in Europe as they have a a lot of small streets, perhaps might work for city to city travel. As for how it might work in China, we'll have to keep an eye on it. Something I would have to ask is, how stable would it be? What if the supports collapse and crush cars beneath it? What if someone's not paying attention and crashes into the supports? I can see that it would be probably easier to reach in the event of an accident as it would be above ground as opposed to a subway below ground or a monorail above ground. However, if it does crash, how much of a headache will it be to clean up? as it would be on the streets. Imagine the traffic jams if one of these things tipped over (or collapsed) in a major intersection... As for the power requirements, I wonder if they could put some solar panels on top for a back up. If traffic gets bad or another bus gets held up at the station I would think there would need to be a need to charge out on the road. All in all though an interesting concept.
All of the nay-saying above is focused on dismissing the idea. Edison would never have invented the light bulb if he quit because it had flaws at the beginning. Perhaps these smart folks could focus on how to make it work rather than blogging to protect the automobile. Most of the issues raised can be address with a little creativity. Get your heads out of the sand. We need creative solutions not "nattering nabobs of negativity" as one vice president called them. You're probably all to young to even remember who said that and what party he belonged to. However, you can google it so you never need to learn anything.
By using existing right-of-way the cost to expand public transportation is greatly reduced. Cheaper than tunnels for subways, cheaper than extra fast lanes or bus lanes, and using clean energy as well. We might learn something from the Chinese on this one. Where is our highly regarded engineering expertise on this one? Hiding good ideas from the public to protect Detroit and the auto industry. Lets move forward.
What a dumb idea. Imagine this in America -- it would go 2 miles until it rams into the nearest overpass, unless they were all moved up over 20 feet higher, at enormous cost. Don't be fooled folks, this is window dressing from a tech nerd.
Here's another idea. Currently, our Very Fast Trains (VFTs) run on standard gauge railway tracks, which have to be very strong and very straight or have very large radii for stability at high speed. Why not have a freeway, with one rail on each side and VFTs straddling the road (or at least the lanes in one direction). The capacity of the trains would be vastly increased, the stability would be better, and the construction costs would be shared.
All of the naysayers here are focusing so much on the negative aspects of this innovation that they are forgetting just how ineffective the U.S. is with traffic. If you have a better idea than this to have the same positive effects, speak up. Otherwise, stop bashing good ideas. I think that a lot of cities could greatly benefit from a project that reduces costs, emissions, and problems with traffic on the road. So many of the large cities in the U.S. have cut transit funds to the point that bus routes have been permanently disabled, including Sacramento - home of the governator - that people are losing their jobs because they can't get to work. If the Chinese, who are ahead of this country in terms of innovation at the moment, by the way, have found a solution, I say that we should keep a very close eye on how it does in the next couple of years. It's easy to bash any new idea that comes out for entirely ignorant reasons, but the real issue here is that there are a lot of people who are not willing to embrace change, and a lot more who are. Future means change, and part of that change is going to be transportation. Should the Chinese succeed in their projections for the straddle bus, there will be a lot of people around the world asking their government to implement such a forward-thinking idea!
Innovation is great when it leads to practicality. There are probably thousands of 'great' ideas that don't come to fruition but produce one 'practical' product that makes our lives better or more fun. But this will not be one of them for two reasons in my mind: First it will be at the mercy of the same things cars have to contend with, i.e. traffic lights, car accidents, and stupid drivers. Secondly it will require continuous maintenance on the road surface to keep the weight of the structure from creating pot holes and perhaps causing the bus to stop or even crash. We can't even keep our streets from potholes now with normal car and truck wheels. Even rails need maintenance. I believe I have seen this idea before in a science magazine in the 60's. So it's not so original. Oh I also forgot one of the greatest problems with most mass transit systems. Profit! How many actually end up paying for themselves without using large amounts of public funds. Especially in a poor country like China.
@ Daryl420 I am more than aware of numerous examples of very large, complex vehicles with dozens (hundreds) of wheels.. All of them are maintenance headaches... generally only make sense for limited applications (moving buildings, mining, etc.) Can it be applied to this? Of course. regardless.... As stated ... steel wheel variation uses 30% less energy than rubber wheels (significant). Steel wheels.. has more infrastructure costs.. but less energy, less complexity. Even rubber wheel variant would require more than simple narrow lanes of asphalt .. the load would be too great, even spread over large area... I am sure they are reviewing maintenance costs on all variations. (maintain steel rails? replace rubber tires?, etc...) Considering rain, snow and other variations.. I would expect steel wheels (rail) to be less of a safety issue. Even vehicles with hundreds of wheels can slide. As to which makes more sense? The "devil" is in the details of the specific location. No one reviewing this .. knows enough of the details of the installations being considered to speak with any authority.
Engineers don't tend to think about the problems their ideas will create, or they tend to think that no one will mind having to attend a three-week seminar, just to learn to co-exist with their inventions. They also think of people as parts, to be fitted into their schemes where they fit best, and then forgotten as we all admire the fantastic machine the parts make up. This seems to be China's equivalent of jet-pack or personal helicopter commuting; fantastic engineering ideas that would never work in the real world. Though China is less individualistic than the US -- some of these may be tried. And then there are the so-called supercapacitors, which to my knowledge have never been asked to do such a job...
Considering the JUNK that China makes and sends here, I doubt this idea will work as intended. It will need recall after recall to fix `too much lead in the paint' and other environmental `mistakes' Chinese manufacturers make, and where did they steal the technology for such and idea, not counting the deaths of the workers on this project due to `cost savings'
It will have two guidance options. 1- microprocessor controlled along painted street lines = rubber tires. 2- embedded rails = steel wheels. The vehicles are designed for linear routes, and I wouldn't imagine much turning at all except for the turnaround at the end of most routes.
I want to like this idea because it is brilliantly simple, elegant & adaptable solution to the transit problem. I have to wonder how the bus will respond to collisions. The average Chinese car is smaller than the average US car so that may be more of an issue here than it is there. Light rail, let alone subway, is not financially feasible for the majority of the US. Acquisition of right of way & construction costs are just too high. (I live in a city that got light rail 20+ years ago) So even if the straddling bus isn't practical, it points in the right direction - using existing roadways & minimizing constructions costs.
@jrlambert i doubt it would be all that hard... ever been to a steel factory that produced ingots? ... http://www.transheldrake.com/www/Transhfast_ferry/IMAG004.JPG see the big red thing... thats a vehicle doesn't move particularly fast, but its HUGE, it can turn, but due to its size evn a small turn requires alot of area... they have another vehicle about 1.5 times taller than a city bus, and about the same length which carries the ingots out of the yard and that can turn regular corners and the normal speeds. and if thety really want to go all out to proformance they can use the same stabilizating method and high speed rail, counter-balance via tilting the load into turn can opposed to out of the turns as they would naturally move, this works well at over 300km/h and what i would assume to be a MUCH heavier vehicle so this method would even be overkill. its huge, but i really don't think its that complex an idea... i'd be more worried about electronically controlled traffic lights that will be inside the bus than the mechanics of the bus itself.... oh and turning a vehicle at that height of off the ground, but a realtime camera rely can solve that problem, or even computer controlled turning to take the guess work out of it.
@fmcgowan and if we let "terrorism" impede all technological progress no-one would be able to have nuclear power just because one trigger happy country dropped two bombs... living in fear is why for the most part the west is socially stuck in 19th and early-mid 20th century and refuses in in many cases modernize... meanwhile china and india both of whom have the exact same terrorism problems are eager to modernize out of necessity, albeit often to lesser degrees via china and india as nations having far more peaceful and diplomatic outlooks whereas the US is still mostly about dictating (even to their "allies") and conquering (militarily or politically) those whom refuse dictation.., the US (and several other countries, mine [canada] included) HAS TO modernize whether they like it or not, and whetehr they feel politically safe about it or not, the Earth simply cannot sustain the world population if everyone were to live at the "american standard" (infact, at the current global population we'd need 4 Earth's worth of resources), which is frankly lazy, wasteful and ineffiencent, and unfortunatley the lifestye is spreading and and more often than not becomming a worsening trend. @capt. midnight yes, because theres alot of trapped gases and what is essentially a wind tunnel... NEWS FLASH this is like saying a fan traps air... no, it simply doesn't ... BECAUSE IT CAN'T... and moreover fume exposure would be significantly lower than for people on a sidewalk, and more than likely less than drivers get from the cars infront of them (i'd be very surprised if it was actually more). and no monorails us MORE land, this uses only the land ALREADY in use... and takes MUCH longer to build... much like a subways.... this is to REPLACE buses.... monorails CANNOT relace buses because their route is too ridgidly fixed... even subways which are a much better investment than monorails both for land use and coverage of service, can't replaces buses, otherwise most cities that have either would have done away with buses as a thing of the past, much like you almost can't find a stage coach anymore (even for the people that actually know what they are).
Capt... I think the point being made... this is a much cheaper and faster solution to put in place compared to any elevated rail (or mono-rail) , subway. Trying to effectively address it's limitations with advanced "smarts" (technology). Addressing it's limitations.. how well?.. we will see. Personally, I am skeptical of the smart driving version (no rails). reason: suspension and turning, complexity / maintenance of mechanics involved. Bridges, elevated rails,etc.. any super structure requirements not only cost a lot .. but have significant maintenance costs. Even simple Mono-rail supports can have corrosion issues that can be extremely costly to address over significant distances. effectively... they have created an elevated train - with it's own moving / limited structure. Pretty clever... wish them success... I am sure they will have many additional obstacles to over come. (gotta be weird ...driving with large structure around you at same speed.. plays with your senses)
I'm sure the bus passengers will enjoy breathing the trapped fumes emitted from the long line of cars and trucks they are straddling. Building an under-hung monorail down the center island ( picture a "T" shaped structure with a monorail at each end of the T bar, hanging over the traffic ) would cause less problems and work just as well.
Neglecting solar panels, which don't provide ALL the power needed, I wonder how much the power source actually pollutes at the source of its generation? How much will this bus actually add to it? Energy cannot be created and is not free; even solar panels have a large maintenance issue.
Neat idea: a logistics nightmare though, I suspect. If this actually is implemented, they'll have on serious follower here for awhile!
From the standpoint of "green" tech, it looks great! It is a great example of creative thinking. However, wouldn't using these in London have made the 7-7 bombers far more lethal? For that sad reason, I don't see this a truly practical solution in our current political environment.
Its a neat idea however I think IMHO this will cause more issues than solve. Imagine the surprise of having to get out from under the bus as 40km because its turning and you aren't. Or having to constantly look up to see if the bus is about to turn. I think the stress of driving under this would drive "no pun intended" drivers away from this.
This is also really cool and I hope the US perks it's ears up at this one, particularly here in the Northeast. We have some of the most craptastic mass public transport systems ever seen! This would be an amazing stride toward helping to solve that problem.