Beijing, China — On the 26th of May a new concept video of the Chinese “Straddling Bus” (立体快巴) was uploaded on the video platform Miaopai. In this conceptual video you can see how the future “floating” bus design is showing off it’s features in urban streets to help current traffic congestion problems.
The designer of the straddling bus, Song Youzhou, confirmed they are working with TEB Technology Development Company in order to build the first prototypes of the futuristic bus. Next to the actual vehicles they will also need to build hundreds of miles of the special rails, on which the bus rides on.
One such straddling bus will be able to transport about 1,200 passengers at once, carrying 300 in each part of the bus. When approaching a bridge they are planning to lower the road, in order for the bus, which is a little higher than 15 feet, to pass underneath it.
The bus stations are platforms above the street and bus rails and passengers will be able to enter the bus via built-in elevators. Cars keep going on the normal streets but they will need to be very cautious when passing through such a bus. Especially when the bus will go for a turn and the car is not, the car will need to stop in order to avoid a collision. Maybe that’s something drivers can get used to over time.
The concept seems to account for some kind of operating or piloting crew, so this is unlikely to follow through with computer-operated transportation systems, like they are used in some other countries. More than that this seems to go against most strategies for future “smart cities” or self-driving cars, if there can’t be a compromise. The concept shows solar panels, but it is unlikely that the system will be powered independently, but better a little renewable energy usage of no solar power at all.
From the financial aspects there might be some advantages on a direct comparison with traditional vehicles of public transportation but on the other end the implementation of the straddling bus will also require a full re-design of cities. For instance one straddling bus will cost about $4.5m. This is only one-sixteenth the price of a traditional subway train. When calculating a per-passenger cost, the straddling bus is clearly having an edge.
Is it a bus or is it a train? The direct translation doesn’t give it away and I am not certain about a clear definition either. You can judge this for yourself. The design was first shown in 2010, but the concept received heavy critique back then. Whether or not the pilot will be successful enough to leverage a nation-wide or international roll-out will remain unclear. The future will tell.
YouTube: Future Transportation Technology / China Straddling Bus