By on August 27, 2010

The number of cars in Beijing is expected to double by 2015, the Beijing Transportation Research Center told Global Times. By the end of 2009, Beijing had 4 million cars.

A taxi driver said it more succinctly: “We’re making another Great Wall, it’s just that this one is a wall of cars.”  Relief could come from a monstrous contraption called the straddle bus.

The monstrosity of a bus will sit on 7 foot tall legs. The two bus legs leave a “tunnel” wide enough for two lanes of small or medium-sized vehicles to drive right through under the moving bus.

No busses will take space from other cars or impede traffic by weaving in and out of stops.

The new elevated super bus will be road-tested in western Beijing by the end of this year, says Global Times.

If everything goes according to plan, more than 180 kilometers of the straddle bus line will be built, all the way out to the airport.

Laser scanners between the legs scan vehicles and warn them to keep a safe distance. The bus will be fitted with an ultrasonic detector on its tail to measure the size of incoming vehicles and deny entry to the oversized.

The price of one kilometer of straddle bus line comes to about 50 million yuan ($7.3 million,) that’s 10 percent of the cost of a subway.

Powered by electricity and solar power, the straddle bus can travel up to 60 kilometers per hour, with a maximum capacity of 1,200 to 1,400 passengers.

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36 Comments on “Beijing Straddles Traffic Jams With Straddle Bus...”

  • avatar

    Being #1 suddenly doesn’t look so good.

    • 0 avatar

      Hopefully china will do the smart thing and expand the population into the deserted wasteland areas of the country. Then, buses like this can shuttle people through the long straight stretches between provinces. But to put these in the cities? Its insane. traffic is bad enough as it is, and they are projected to have 5 million cars on the road by December.

  • avatar

    I’d rather see something like that in parts of NYC, instead of those hideous elevated train lines.

  • avatar

    It’s an interesting concept but my mind is in overdrive with all the potential problems with it.

    Still i look forward to a Hollywood film using one of these as the backdrop to a car chase scene!

  • avatar

    How is that a bus rather than a train? I suppose it’s cheaper than an elevated track, but nowhere near as safe for traffic and pedestrians.

  • avatar

    What if they’ve got a wall of straddle buses then? these folks are amazing.

  • avatar

    Even though China lags far behind the US in expanding waistlines, I seriously doubt you could fit twelve to fourteen hundred Chinese passengers on one of these things.

    • 0 avatar

      Ever been to Japan?

    • 0 avatar

      One thing is for sure, you’d get very few Americans in this contraption. The only way for this to be practical is by using stairs to get people up into the cabin. Elevators or escalators would take too much time, and impede traffic. From my personal observation, most Americans are now unable, or unwilling, to climb a flight of stairs.

    • 0 avatar

      You know, I heard all these nightmare stories about Tokyo subways, but I was there for a week and rarely had any issues. Certainly nothing like what people describe. There were some times when it was fairly crowded, maybe a bit more than the NYC subway, but nobody getting packed in with a crobar.

      The best part is that I was there with some other guys who were 6′ plus, and the group of us (even though I’m only 5’9″) just TOWERED over everyone when we were all standing. We could have a comfortable conversation over the heads of people between us. We were probably considered quite rude, actually; nobody else seemed to talk. Either they all clammed up when they saw gaijin on the train, or Japanese just don’t talk on the subway.

    • 0 avatar

      I have been to Tokyo many times a few years ago, and I never saw the pushers, my understanding is that they have been gone for some time. The subway is certainly well utilized.

      There are white gloved attendants that make sure everybody gets on and the doors close, but that is just how the culture is there.

      I didn’t find that I was in the land of the midgets over there either. I am 6’2″ and a few of the local people I worked with were about as tall.

      I did hear when I was in China, from a transplanted American, that some of the longer distance trains are so crowded that some opt to wear adult diapers since the bathroom is virtually unreachable…

    • 0 avatar

      I rode a Beijing subway during rush hour, and the cars were packed insanely tight. When the doors first opened I wasn’t sure I could get into the car it was so full. But the crowd pushed from behind me with such force that I ended up about six feet into the car, with other new entrants filling the space behind me. Everyone was pressed in so tightly that I had to struggle to raise my arm above the crowd to snap a photo.

      No need for pushers, the crowd does the work itself.

  • avatar

    Interesting idea, but the mind boggles with questions.

    Since this thing basically lane splits like as motorcycle would (an activity that is illegal in many places because of the risk), I see a lot of the same issue (e.g. a slow moving vehicle changing lanes right in front of a fast moving train).

    • 0 avatar

      Darwinian laws will quickly correct for problems like that.

      BTW, check out this street car film from San Fransisco shot back in 1906. How did all those people manage to live before the age of the ambulance chaser?

  • avatar

    this is really cool, I hope to see how it works in the real world

  • avatar

    Here that would be a disaster, I can just imagine one of our Type A morons crashing into the bus legs as he/she is eating, cell phoning talking, texting, reading, whatever. It’s bad enough when they can cross lanes with nothing in the way.

    • 0 avatar

      It appears to ride on elevated guard rails that cars cannot cross… technically more of a monorail than a bus. But still, it boggles the mind to think how they will handle cross-flowing traffic, breakdowns, etc.

  • avatar

    One of the most stupid ideas ever.

    1) The lanes must be made much wider to allow for a safety margin between the bus and the cars underneath. Why not use that extra space on both sides to create an extra lane?

    2) What if the bus wants to turn left while the cars need to turn right?

    3) The overall engineering cost would be higher than a raise track or subway due to novelty.

    4) The maintenance cost would be higher, because you don’t have a number of companies trying to sell you “on shelf” buses. You would likely have only one engineering company supplying these things.

  • avatar

    Saw this a few weeks ago, and it looks like it could’ve been featured on the cover of Popular Science in the 1920s.

    I don’t see how it would work with cars changing in/out of the straddled lane – they’re either going to get trapped or block the bus.

    China is making huge strides in terms of transportation infrastructure, but that doesn’t mean every idea they float is a winner.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    I give them credit for creativity. Even if we decided we WANTED to do this in the US, after 10 years of deliberation, we MIGHT be able to get one for 300% of the original cost, after of course the project was mired in construction and regulatory delays.

  • avatar

    Well, Bertel, in response to another question about traffic jams, you mentioned that the Chinese have lots of lane lines, turn arrows, stop signs and the like, but Chinese drivers ignore them. A little rebellion against authority? Anyway, these straddle buses have to cross traffic lanes somewhere. What are the odds a traffic jam will be straddling the tracks? Maybe it would be cheaper to send Chinese authorities to Sao Paulo to inspect the dedicated busways there. Has anybody heard or seen how those are working?

    • 0 avatar

      We have them in Boston as well – the Silver Line. I’ve only ridden it a couple of times to get to the convention center from one of the subway stations. It seemed to work well.

    • 0 avatar

      China has tons of Bus Rapid Transit. This is meant to solve the problem of BRT taking up a dedicated lane. China’s roads are extremely crowded, they need to squeeze every bit of space they can.

  • avatar
    M 1

    I think people are applying the word “bus” a little too seriously.
    As Advance_92 already pointed out, this appears to be more like a train than a bus.

    I doubt these things would be changing lanes or turning. They’re probably station-to-station. And since the point is to provide mass-transit in areas that suffer from massive, lengthy traffic jams, you aren’t exactly going to have a lot of fast moving cars and lane changes.

    The tracks are likely simple and cheap. You don’t have all that engineering and concrete that would go into monorail or elevated track pylons. In fact, in a sense the “bus” itself carries it’s own pylons.

    It’s certainly out-of-the-box thinking.

  • avatar

    Way…way back in the 50’s I remember a cartoon segment the Artists at Walt Disney made based on all sorts of crazy ideas for alleviating the then growing problem of traffic congestion. I would have never guessed the Chinese would pick up on it!

  • avatar

    Hitting drivers with lasers and ultrasound might not be the best for their health. What’s wrong with electric bicycles?

  • avatar

    To improve the fuel economy of my vehicle, I’d run a cable with a hook or some sort out the moonroof to attach to the bottom of the bus/train. Hook up and awaaaaaaay we goooooo!

  • avatar

    Seriously? These guys have bullet trains and theyre trying to pull this off? Im from Chicago and Illinois, home of some “challenged” civil engineers. Glad to see the Chinese are right there wit us.

    PS. The name of the game is to seperate, NOT combine ROWs. Dummy-up MFs.

  • avatar

    Here’s the original presentation with English dubbing:

  • avatar

    Interesting, and quite the solution…

  • avatar

    You don’t have all that engineering and concrete that would go into monorail or elevated track pylons. Traffic is bad enough as it is, and they are projected to have 5 million cars on the road by December.
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  • avatar

    What if we ported this and put it in the Lincoln Tunnel?

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