Thinking Tech

China's car-straddling bus -- and its creativity in clean tech

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?

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Deborah Gage

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Deborah Gage has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, Minnesota Public Radio, Baseline and various magazines and newspapers. She is based in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure