Beijing “Super-bus” to solve traffic woes?

super-bus-beijing

They’re saying this contraption can ease Beijing’s infamous traffic by up to 30 percent, though special track will need to be laid everywhere. Where was it when I was living there?

From another source:

A prototype of the super bus is expected to roll out onto the road by December, three months after the 40-day-long design phase is completed, the official Global Times newspaper reported today.

It is expected to commence trials on a six-km stretch of road along the West Sixth Ring Road in Mentougou district.

The concept of the ‘straddle’ bus is unique as cars could drive under its huge uplifted passenger compartment between its 2.2-meter-long legs. The two bus legs leave a ‘tunnel’ wide enough for two lanes of small or medium-sized vehicles — 1.55 to 1.6 meters high, in general — to drive right through under the moving bus.

This is definitely an “only-in-China” type of innovation, where size truly matters. More power to them if the eco-friendly super-bus actually works.

Update: Speaking of traffic in and around Beijing, it’s interesting to see that this story of China’s 60-mile traffic jam has gone mainstream.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 41 Comments

imho there are so many problems with this i hope it never comes to fruition for all the potential deaths and havoc it could causeā€¦

August 25, 2010 @ 8:43 am | Comment

How can a dictatorship country invent anything innovative? How can it not be thought of by a democratic country? Impossible, totally impossible. Citizens of dictatorship countries are all brainwashed, all have no creativity, all know only about rote learning. How can they create anything innovative? I do not believe, totally do not believe. This is definitely a fake news.

August 25, 2010 @ 9:05 am | Comment

I’ve been thinking of blogging about this myself, but didn’t want to come off all negative without knowing the facts. My initial impression, as someone who actually drives in Beijing, is that this is something that looks great on paper, but would be a total disaster in practice. Look at Beijing traffic during rush hour — half of the cars are stuck halfway between one lane and the other, trying to wedge themselves in. Merging is a nightmare. Even when traffic does flow, cars are constantly weaving between lanes and cutting people off (without using their signals). Now imagine a giant bus suspending on two giant ice skates trying to cut through all that. Option A: it will move forward relentlessly, cutting cars in half. Option B: It won’t, and will be stuck in traffic like everyone else. Am I being too gloomy? What does everyone else think?

August 25, 2010 @ 9:38 am | Comment

i second imho
simply dangerous

August 25, 2010 @ 10:08 am | Comment

Patrick, I, too, can’t really imagine this working. But it’s worth a post for its sheer audacity.

Red Star, nice to hear from you.

August 25, 2010 @ 10:15 am | Comment

Oh, I read about this thing a few weeks ago. But I didn’t know they were actually going to BUILD it and try it out in Beijing!

Given that drivers don’t obey traffic laws as it is, I gotta say…there will be a learning curve.

August 25, 2010 @ 11:28 am | Comment

It’s a flaming ball of death waiting to be built. (Unless it’s built in a liberal democracy. Then it would be a flaming ball of death that could freely complain to its leaders. Right, HX?)

August 25, 2010 @ 12:09 pm | Comment

Sounds like just a concept being thrown around.

August 25, 2010 @ 1:00 pm | Comment

Merp, they say it may get tested in December. I somehow doubt it.

August 25, 2010 @ 1:40 pm | Comment

I think they thought about mobility of cars under the megabus, but I can see it blocking people’s view of the road and disorienting drivers.

August 25, 2010 @ 2:06 pm | Comment

Yeah, Merp. It’s one of these things that, you know, seems like a really cool idea, but not something that would really work in the real world. And all snarking on China’s drivers aside, I don’t see it working any better anywhere else. I can’t imagine something like that in Los Angeles! Talk about a disaster…

August 25, 2010 @ 4:28 pm | Comment

Where does this figure of 30% come from? When I last saw Beijing’s roads they just seemed clogged with ordinary cars, vans, etc. Buses were just caught up in the mess rather than the problem from what I could see.

Patrick, I like the idea of the super-bus cutting traffic violators in half. Perhaps there could be a “police cabin” on board who can give the drivers instructions to enforce the traffic law Arnie-style!

August 25, 2010 @ 5:17 pm | Comment

Reminds me of two English sayings:

Necessity is the mother of invention.

and

Too clever by half.

August 26, 2010 @ 2:21 am | Comment

If there were no road crossings…. it might work. ;-)

But I wonder how many drivers will crash when the thing whooshes upon then.

Still, an elevated mass transportation system could be a solution on some cases. Like wuppertal elevated tram in Germany or a monorail.

August 26, 2010 @ 3:13 am | Comment

A better idea

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wuppertal_Schwebebahn

August 26, 2010 @ 3:31 am | Comment

If there were no road crossings it could work….. But there will be son crashes as the thing whooshes above surprised drivers.

An elevated train can be a good solution, like wuppertal’s or a monorail.

August 26, 2010 @ 3:33 am | Comment

Speaking of crazy ideas…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyro_monorail

August 26, 2010 @ 3:37 am | Comment

Just make my fucking flying car already.

August 26, 2010 @ 6:02 am | Comment

Flying car? Strewth, mate, hard enough to get people to drive safely in 2 dimensions, never mind 3! ;-)

August 26, 2010 @ 6:20 am | Comment

Atually in 4 dimensions. Space+time

August 26, 2010 @ 6:21 am | Comment

I want a jet-pack, dammit…

August 26, 2010 @ 6:30 am | Comment

There is an interesting presentation w/animation at the end of this article:

http://www.salon.com/technology/how_the_world_works/2010/08/25/china_traffic_jam/index.html

I’m excited to see this in action. Whatever problems it will have seems resolvable.

August 26, 2010 @ 6:32 am | Comment

I have to say I foresee some particularly spectacular accidents with this bus – quite simply, somebody is going to run into, or get run into by, one of the sides of the bus and the whole contraption will collapse on the people under it. Either that or an excessively high truck or bus will plow into it, once again causing mayhem.

However, the real solution to traffic congestion is what is already being done – more subway lines, more railway lines, more buses.

August 26, 2010 @ 7:12 am | Comment

They recently installed a light rail system in Phoenix and nearly every day cars turn and crash into the train. In China, where driving is all about cutting people off and squeaking through any space that opens up no matter how small, even if it means driving on the sidewalk or in the shoulder, you’d think these trains would be a moving target. I wish the video in that Salon link was working now; looking at the still, it looks like something so wildly different it just might work – if it can be segregated from all passing traffic. This could mean a wall alongside it. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

FOARP, the answer isn’t necessarily more subways and buses – Beijing’s new subway and bus lines make it possible to get nearly everywhere, as if you were in Paris. More important is fewer cars. Everyone and his mother living in Beijing wants to own a car, and they keep pouring millions of new ones onto the roads every year. Draconian limitations like we saw during the 2008 Olympics, which cut traffic in half, should be applied every day.

August 26, 2010 @ 7:42 am | Comment

And more dedicated bus lines

August 26, 2010 @ 7:44 am | Comment

And more dedicated bus lines

August 26, 2010 @ 7:44 am | Comment

In Phoenix it is around one accident every 2 weeks. It started in Dec of 2008 and some of the accidents were the fault of the rail operator.

August 26, 2010 @ 8:09 am | Comment

Bicycles. That’s the answer.
After removing and banning cycles, I dare say city planners will be wondering how to get people back on bikes :-)

@Eco – well, yes…but I was limiting myself to x, y and z :-)

August 26, 2010 @ 8:11 am | Comment

Bert, I had read most of the Phoenix accidents were from drivers running red lights and ignoring the No Right Turn traffic signal. Either way, 2 accidents a week involving trains and cars colliding is a lot.

August 26, 2010 @ 8:39 am | Comment

It’s kind of ironic…one of the things I love about going to Beijing is that I DON’T HAVE TO DRIVE A CAR!!! And one of the best parts of the Olympics was having half of auto traffic off the streets every day. The city was so much nicer!

August 26, 2010 @ 8:55 am | Comment

See, authoritarianism isn’t completely useless

August 26, 2010 @ 11:14 am | Comment

Lisa,

Agreed. One of the downsides to so many new cars each week/month is the number of new drivers, it makes little things like crossing at the light quite an adventure. I thought growing up near Boston I had seen it all when it came to bad driving…then I came to Beijing. Wow.

August 26, 2010 @ 6:00 pm | Comment

Maybe the real aim of this new invention is to scare drivers out of the streets, and to cut by half those that are stubborn enough to keep on driving….

August 26, 2010 @ 9:54 pm | Comment

^ good one!

August 27, 2010 @ 7:57 am | Comment

Merp, believe me, if I were dictator…there would be WAY fewer cars!

August 27, 2010 @ 9:37 am | Comment

first they come for our guns and now our cars! this is why I joined the tea party

August 27, 2010 @ 9:52 am | Comment

I read an article on Phoenix/ifeng two days ago where the Traffic Ministry in Beijing denied that this bus was in the planning, and even blamed the company behind it for making a publicity stunt. I can’t find it now, though.

I have to say, it’d be really cool to have something like this. With the TV tower and this bus Beijing would have enough of its own weirdness to attract tech geeks, the way Tokyo does today.

August 31, 2010 @ 11:09 am | Comment

I can’t see why it wouldn’t work, it’s been test-piloted first and safety-traffic considerations be taken into account.

The traffic here is a rapidly snowballing problem, and needs a similarly radical, rapid solution. They can’t just ban cars – too much auto lobbying/money/backsheesh involved and the middle class would invariably revolt

So, this appears to be it. Stop naysaying, o ye naysayers

August 31, 2010 @ 1:10 pm | Comment

I can’t see why it wouldn’t work, it’s been test-piloted first and safety-traffic considerations be taken into account.

The traffic here is a rapidly snowballing problem, and needs a similarly radical, rapid solution. They can’t just ban cars – too much auto lobbying/money/backsheesh involved and the middle class would invariably revolt

So, this appears to be it. Stop naysaying, o ye naysayers – I hope to be there in December to witness this extraordinary new jalopy

August 31, 2010 @ 1:13 pm | Comment

Although such innovation might yield very positive results, the money would be perhaps better invested in the continued effort to extend and improve Beijing’s existing public transport infastructure (along the lines of recent announcements that the Fangshan subway line should be operational by December of this year.)

September 2, 2010 @ 6:55 am | Comment

I like how Taipei and Singapore reduce the number of cars, by making car ownership so expensive (along with high parking prices for the few spots open) that the market responds by buying less cars. I’d prefer that to any kind of draconian extension of the policy during the olympics.

September 13, 2010 @ 6:50 am | Comment

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