Best 50 Inventions of 2010
No. 18

الحافلة الممتطية الطريق

The Straddling Bus



A boom in car sales has caused traffic mayhem in many of China's major cities. One company wants to improve the situation — by putting even more people on the road. But rather than add more cars, Shenzhen Huashi Future Parking Equipment is developing a massive "straddling bus." Cheaper than a subway, the partly solar-powered behemoth will span two lanes and carry up to 1,200 people in a carriage raised 7 ft. above the roadway, thus allowing cars to pass, or be passed, underneath. Passengers on the new bus should rightly expect to feel above it all. The company is awaiting government approval for a trial project in Beijing. If that comes through this year, test runs could begin by the end of 2011.



     The Straddling Bus


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Huashi Future Parking’s outsize invention — six meters, or about 20 feet, wide — is to be powered by a combination of municipal electricity and solar power derived from panels mounted on the roofs of the vehicles and at bus stops.
The company says the vehicle — which will travel at an average speed of 40 kilometers an hour, or about 25 m.p.h. — could reduce traffic jams by 25 to 30 percent on main routes.
The straddling bus could replace up to 40 conventional buses, potentially saving the 860 tons of fuel that 40 buses would consume annually, and preventing 2,640 tons of carbon emissions, said Youzhou Song, the vehicle’s designer.
The vehicles will be built by the China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corporation.
The cost of construction — 50 million renminbi, or $7.4 million, for one bus and about 25 miles of route facilities — is roughly one-tenth what it costs to build a subway of the same length.