Saturday, September 4, 2010
Auto sales are exploding in China. There are almost 1,500 new cars hitting the road in Beijing every day. When there was not enough land for buildings, we stacked up the floors and invented skyscraper. Now we have traffic jams everywhere, what should we do? The same logic - go vertical!
Shenzhen Huashi Future Parking Equipment has recently developed an odd-looking vehicle called "straddling bus." It's 6 meters wide, 4.5 meters tall, spanning two traffic lanes high above the road surface on two side stilts. The bus runs at 40-50 kilometers per hour along fix rails, and other cars can pass underneath smoothly. The bus stops are also elevated, with automatic boarding walkway systems.
This is really an innovative solution to reduce traffic congestion. Plus, it's very environmentally friendly. The system will be powered purely by electricity, partly from municipal grid and partly solar energy gained from PV panels on the bus stop roofs. With the capacity of carrying up to 1,200 passengers, one straddling bus could replace 40 conventional buses. That will potentially save 860 tons of fuel and prevent 2,640 tons of carbon emissions.
The design is not just dreamy fantasy. A pilot project will soon start in Beijing's Mentougou district. The cost of construction will be 50 million RMB ($7.4 million) per kilometer, including vehicle manufacturing. That's only 10% of what it costs to build a subway line. And maintenance will be 30% cheaper compared to conventional fuel-burning buses. The Mentougou project will start with 9 kilometers of test route at the end of this year. If it's successful, about 186 kilometers will be put in place. Can't wait to see it running!