China may have found an environmentally friendly way to save money while easing congestion on city roads, Engadget reports.
Instead of spending millions to widen roads, the Shenzhen Huashi Future Parking Equipment company is developing a "3D Express Coach" (also called a "three-dimensional fast bus") that will allow cars less than 2 meters high to travel underneath the upper level carrying passengers.
China Hush, which has nicknamed the project "Straddling Bus" has details:
The model looks like a subway or light-rail train bestriding the road. It is 4-4.5 m high with two levels: passengers board on the upper level while other vehicles lower than 2 m can go through under. Powered by electricity and solar energy, the bus can speed up to 60 km/h carrying 1200-1400 passengers at a time without blocking other vehicles' way. Also it costs about 500 million yuan to build the bus and a 40-km-long path for it, only 10% of building equivalent subway. It is said that the bus can reduce traffic jams by 20-30%.
According to Engadget, construction of the first 115 miles of track will begin in Beijing's Mentougou district at the end of 2010.
Check out our slideshow of the 3D Express Coach, then tell us what you think in the comments below.
For more information about this project, as well as a translation of the project's official unveiling by Song Youzhou, chairman of Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment, visit China Hush.
Straddling buses will be made to fit under city overpasses. Shenzhen Hashi predicts that each of the vehicles' cabs will carry 300 passengers at a time (up to 1,400 passengers in all) and will reduce traffic by up to 30 percent on crowded roads.
Under the bus
A view from under one of the road-straddling buses. Cars less than 2 meters high will be able to pass underneath these giant buses. A "radar scanning system is embedded on the walls to warn cars from getting too close to the bus wheels," Song Youzhou, chairman of Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment Co., Ltd., said during a presentation at a tech expo in May 2010. [via China Hush
When completed, the straddling buses will run on "relay charges" of electricity and solar power. "The bus itself is electrical conductor," Song Youzhou explained during his presentation of the project. "[T]wo 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." [via China Hush
Passengers will board the buses at large above-ground loading stations.
Front and rear sensors
The front and rear of the buses will emit ultrasonic waves to keep trucks or too-tall cars from entering the "tunnel." If an oversize vehicle gets too close to the bus, sensors will trigger an alarm.
The interior of the buses will resemble current public transit vehicles like city buses and subway cars. The passengers will enter the vehicles either through sliding side doors or through an internal staircase that leads to a sliding skylight.
The road-straddling buses will use only 860 tons of fuel per year, Shenzhen Hashi predicts
. This could reduce yearly carbon emissions by 2,640 tons.
Types of platforms
Song Youzhou proposed two different types of platforms for the buses: "One is to load/unload through the sides [of the vehicle]; the other is using the built-in ladder so that passengers can go up and to the overpass through the [vehicle's] ceiling door." [via China Hush